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Boulder City Bypass | The new stretch of road that could have a major impact

It’s 15 miles of new road! But see why a freeway designed to improve your travel could also damage an entire city! Check out this rendering of Boulder City Parkway. (Courtesy: Boulder City)

Ever since the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge opened in 2010, long lines have been a regular occurrence in downtown Boulder City. Especially on weekends and holidays.

A new freeway around Boulder City should eliminate that delay. But one person's time-saver can be another person's money-loser.

Once the dam was completed in 1935, Boulder City transitioned to a tourist gateway to the new man-made wonder.

That's why eliminating the backups is seen as a mixed blessing by Kevin Hurd, an Assistant Manager at the A&W Root Beer on Nevada Way between Railroad Pass and downtown Boulder City.

"Actually when traffic is at a standstill, they look over and say 'Ooh ... A&W. I haven't been to one since I was a teenager. Let's turn in there.' So it actually kind of helps, to be honest with you,” says Hurd.

That particular A&W has been around since 1972. It's the last one free-standing A&W outlet in Southern Nevada.

"Who knows what to say," muses Hurd. "I mean, we just rely on our locals pretty much. We'll still get some tourists. Because they're not gonna like desert Boulder City.”

"People who want to go through Boulder City can still go through Boulder City," maintains the Nevada Department of Transportation's Tony Illia. "That's a viable option. It's certainly up to them. But those who are traveling through can do so by hopping onto this new segment on what will be Interstate 11 and bypass it."

NDOT is in charge of Phase One, which mostly consists of a complicated interchange connecting the Las Vegas Valley with both the new bypass and Boulder City.

"Phase Two, that's the Regional Transportation Commission. They're twelve and a half miles. I believe they too are on schedule. But they will finish roughly mid-2018,” says Illia.

"We kind of feel a little like the sacrificial lamb for the state," says Boulder City Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Lagan. "And so we're grateful that these different state entities, our elected officials both state, county, and our local officials understand that there are some concerns ahead. But we also want to look ahead at the opportunities."

Lagan notes that a recent study anticipates a 34-percent drop-off in traffic through the city.

"That is great when it comes to the big rigs and those larger trucks that are causing some of the traffic congestion. However, it does create some issues for some of our local businesses."

When you look at the backup in downtown Boulder City, you see a lot of big rigs. Local merchants are hoping that truckers go non-stop via the bypass, while a lot of tourists and Lake Mead visitors take the old route through town.

"Because the lake's still there," reasons Hurd. "So especially summertime, 115 degrees. Who wouldn't want a nice root beer float?"

One element of confusion will be eliminated. Is it US 93? Nevada Way? Great Basin Highway? The answer is none of those.

"Boulder City Parkway is the title that you'll take to get into Boulder City," says Lagan. "And we're grateful to NDOT and RTC to allow us to sit in on some of those meetings, those initial meetings so we can get that signage correct."

With the new signage comes road improvements. The Parkway will be more car, bike, and pedestrian friendly.

"If you're a trucker hauling goods, it's all about time and distance," says Illia. "So this is going to create a faster route with higher travel speeds, no signals, and for them, it would make sense."

Certainly, the first stage of I-11 will make for smooth sailing around Boulder City. However, it also kind of kicks the can down the road to Kingman, Ariz., where a full freeway suddenly becomes a commercial surface street along Beale, resulting in inevitable delays at the signalized interchange with I-40.

Arizona has not yet even picked a location. And while it's in their five-year funding plan...

"Keep in mind, we have a new President," observes Illia.

President Trump has talked about infrastructure, but details are still forthcoming.

"All DOTs are looking to the next transportation bill to see what may happen next,” says Illia.

Big decisions for Kingman loom in the future. For Boulder City, they're here now, and the Chamber wants the past to be part of the present.

"We very much want to partner and make sure that history, adventure tourism, all the great things we have here in Boulder City are a focus," says Lagan. "But we also want to make sure that we make sure to let everybody know that Boulder City is not going to shrivel. We will not be quiet. We will not go peacefully."

"I'm not gonna lie," says Hurd back at the A&W. “I think we're going to slow down a little bit. But not tremendously."

Signs for Boulder City Parkway will start showing up later this year. Expect new billboards for A&W and other Boulder City businesses at Railroad Pass. What will the actual effect be on downtown Boulder City commerce? We’ll start finding out late next year.

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