Pedestrians get first look at new MLK during NDOT's Fun Walk

Pedestrians take part Saturday, August 26, 2017, in the Nevada Department of Transportation’s Fun Walk along MLK Boulevard in Las Vegas. (Chad Graves/KSNV)

Traffic officially opens to cars along the cone-zone of MLK over Labor Day weekend. As “Project Neon” continues to bring changes to local roads a preview of what’s to come was opened Saturday – but not to drivers.

The Nevada Department of Transportation opened the road to the public Saturday morning for the first “Fun Walk.” The event allowed locals to see the new portion of MLK, first-hand, before it opens to cars next month.

Heidi Dexheimer is a Las Vegas native. The local civil engineer said she didn’t want to miss the Saturday event, making her one of the first – and only – people to walk along the currently under-construction portion of MLK.

“I’ve seen the Spaghetti Bowl get done a few times in my lifetime,” said Dexheimer. “As a native who has seen a lot of changes over the years, the main way that we can said up and become a city of the future is to do projects like this.”

The new portion of MLK will soon take drivers above and over Charleston, lightening traffic for both streets. The road will also now widen at Alta, allowing more lanes for more drivers.

“This stretch of I-15 sees roughly 300,000 people a day, that’s one tenth the state’s population,” said NDOT spokesman Tony Illia. “It also sees 25,000 lane changes an hour and averages three crashes a day.”

Illia said the changes here are all part of the nearly one billion dollars in local road renovations called “Project Neon”. The question now: What happens now with the “old” MLK?

“That essentially is a feeder for I-15 traffic on and off, so that will just free up that many more cars,” said Illia.

When the new-construction MLK opens to cars over Labor Day weekend, it’s expected to become a major north-south connector in downtown Las Vegas. But those walking the road on foot Saturday morning said they’re glad to get a preview of what’s to come.

“Charleston-MLK is always a busy intersection, so this bridge is going to be a big change for everybody. It really is going to help to move people through this area a lot more smoothly,” said Dexheimer.

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