Light Rail may finally connect McCarran Airport to Downtown Las Vegas

Light Rail may finally connect McCarran Airport to Downtown Las Vegas. 4/18/17 (Gerard Ramalho | KSNV)

The Nevada Senate has passed a bill that lays the groundwork for a new light-rail system that would connect McCarran Airport to Downtown Las Vegas. It's been a long time coming, just ask anyone who frequents Maryland Parkway near UNLV.

"I think with a city as metropolitan as Las Vegas,” said one pedestrian who frequents the area. “I think it's quite ludicrous that something like that doesn't already exist."

David Swallow with the Regional Transportation Commission said the Maryland Parkway corridor, "is our highest productivity route outside of The Strip. It carries 9 to 10,000 passengers per day, so it's a key corridor for our valley."

The area includes UNLV, The Boulevard Mall, and also Sunrise Hospital, areas that have seen increased traffic in recent years.

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“We've been undertaking an environmental assessment since 2015,” said Swallow. “And we're hoping this summer to publish that environmental assessment and really present our results to the public."

The plan would call for a two-way light rail system that would position rail cars on both sides of Maryland Parkway. The multi-billion-dollar project would also include makeovers for pedestrian walkways, and a go-ahead to explore the use of self-driving cars.

All ideas many have heard before, now though the plan seems to be chugging along. Is it too early to be excited? Not necessarily. The RTC is hoping to receive a federal grant that will cover the cost of up to 50-percent of the project.

Regardless they believe funding will fall into place one way or the other. The State Assembly will still have to vote on the bill approved by the Senate, which authorizes an implementation plan for state funding.

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