Local church directly impacted by Project Neon

For more than 80-years Grace Presbyterian on West Charleston has offered its members peace, hope, and love.

These days the peace part is a little harder to come by. Pastor Jim Houston-Hencken explained, "They're building an overpass of Charleston, which will be above the height of the church on two sides." Call it progress, or more specifically Project Neon.

The widening of I-15 and repositioning and MLK, have essentially resulted in a test of faith for church goers. Pastor Houston-Hencken showed us damage to the structure he believes was caused by vibrations, broken stained glass. Add-in construction noise, and an increase in homeless in the area, it's still only a small part of the problem.

"They've also in essence cut-off three of our access points," he said.

News 3 drove to the church, navigating marked detours past a fast food restaurant, then a side street, between concrete barriers and a broken stretch of pavement.

An NDOT spokesperson sent us a statement that reads in part: "We are cultivating a mutually beneficial partnership with the central grace presbyterian church, based upon inclusion and cooperation, trust and respect."

Initially, the church was informed a portion of the property would be purchased by the state, but that changed.

"Well, somebody at NDOT thought that it might be a good idea that they could save a couple bucks and just skirt the actual physical taking of the church," said Attorney Brian Padgett, who represents the church. Which means, barring an act of God, the church's troubles, may be only just beginning.

Full statement from NDOT:

“We are cultivating a mutually beneficial partnership with the Central Grace Presbyterian Church, based upon inclusion and cooperation, trust and respect. As such, we consistently communicate with church management through phone conversations, emails, presentations and meetings in order to remove uncertainty and allay concerns. In fact, the Nevada Department of Transportation has made several Project Neon presentations to church leaders and staff, exclusively, explaining scheduling, construction, and design. We have also addressed concerns and accommodated special requests such as providing special signage during construction and maintaining constant church access, including a driveway along Charleston Boulevard (State Route 159). Project Neon will dramatically improve mobility through the downtown Las Vegas corridor, creating a full diamond interchange at Charleston Boulevard and Interstate 15 while transforming Martin Luther King Boulevard into a feeder-like roadway for enhanced performance. Project Neon, ultimately, will reduce travel delays by 28 percent for a $110 million annual savings through increased productivity while improving air quality due to less idle time and vehicle exhaust.” Tony Illia/Nevada Department of Transportation

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