Fuel for Thought provides you updates on how road construction is creating jobs - progress - growth in Southern Nevada. In this issue, you will learn how residents are finding jobs, how developers are working with the RTC and partners on projects in growing communities, and what road projects are on the horizon.
In true Las Vegas fashion, small-business entrepreneur Derek Stonebarger rolled the dice in June 2016 on a new business on South Main Street in the midst of a major roadway improvement project funded in part with Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI) funds.
Named the Main Street Beautification project, the City of Las Vegas launched the effort in 2014 to help transform Main Street in the Arts District from Oakey Boulevard to Gass Avenue into a two-lane one-way northbound thoroughfare with widened sidewalks, bike lanes, curb extensions and additional landscaping. The $52 million project, officially completed this fall, also rerouted Commerce Street into a southbound one-way road in an effort to create a more inviting and walkable neighborhood.
Stonebarger opened ReBar, a unique combination of antique shop and bar at 1225 S. Main St., where in addition to a cocktail you can buy the bar stool, your wine glass or anything on the walls. The unique destination more than weathered the construction disruption, which he described as “not easy but well worth it.”
“We knew about the project and gambled on it making a difference,” said Stonebarger. “It’s really an amazing area now and one of the hottest neighborhoods. Previously, it was a rough and dilapidated two-way street. Now, businesses are fixing up and repainting buildings. An organic community is forming.”
The project generated about 130 construction jobs and the results are positively affecting ReBar. “We were open only two days a week initially with my wife Dorian, bar manager Shani Garrett, who has an antiques background, and two part-time employees. Today we have 15 full and part-time employees, are open seven days a week and are expanding hours.”
A nearby RTC bus stop helps customer flow and Stonebarger sees more bicyclists, including RTC Bike Share users, as a result of the improvements.
FRI funds support ‘build it, they will come’ surge
The adage, “If you build it, they will come,” has been turned on its head many times In Southern Nevada, with the building of transportation infrastructure improvements with Fuel Revenue Indexing funds that have spurred economic progress across the valley.
In December 2015, FRI contributed $6.9 million toward a $16.7 million project to widen Volunteer Boulevard from two to four lanes between Executive Airport Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard, also adding a median, separate bike lanes, pedestrian access, drainage improvements to prevent flooding and street lighting.
While the project was originally developed as a means to offload traffic from Eastern Avenue and direct it toward the new interchange at Starr and I-15, the improvements on Volunteer Boulevard also opened the doors to more residential and business development in the area. And just a little over two years later, the City of Henderson approved the sale of 55 acres within the Sage Mountain Commerce Center - near the revamped roadway project - as a site for the Las Vegas Raiders’ 300,000 square-foot headquarters and practice facility.
Similar facilities in other cities have been a catalyst to attract other major businesses and retail amenities, such as the Dallas Cowboys’ headquarters in Frisco, Texas, which includes shops, restaurants and a hotel. Henderson officials envision the area as ripe for growth with new office buildings and businesses to support the new football facility, the existing executive airport and nearby neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, other business and residential development already are opening in the area: Turano Nevada Baking, Speedee Mart, Rounders Grilling & Gaming Company, ALL STORAGE Inspirada (nearly completed), Pinecrest Charter school, and Freedom Homes, a 55+ Community with 68 lots off Gilespie Street.
“We already have businesses and residential development opening in the area and we see the Raiders’ facility as a major contributor to what we expect to be an economic transformation of the area,” said Ed McGuire, Public Works Director. “Getting the right infrastructure in place makes it easier to attract development and enable an entire area to progress into a thriving economic destination.”
A diversifying economy is growing fast in North Las Vegas
Things are moving fast along I-15 north and it’s not because the Las Vegas Motor Speedway added a second major NASCAR event this year that is attracting thousands more motorists to the area.
At nearby North Las Vegas, the city is racing quickly to be a magnet for industry and commerce that will help diversify the Southern Nevada economy.
E-commerce giant Amazon, which already has two facilities in North Las Vegas, announced in April 2018 plans for an 800,000-square-foot fulfillment center at a 1,100-acre industrial complex under construction a few miles from the Speedway. It is projected to open in 2019 with more than 1,000 fulltime employees.
About 90 percent of the industrial space near the Speedway is under development and includes more than 4 million square feet of warehouse and factory space.
To sustain this level of continued economic growth, it takes infrastructure to support truck fleets and employee access. That’s where Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI) funds enter the picture. In August, a short but critical half-mile segment of Tropical Parkway opened, allowing motorists to exit I-15 and travel about a half-mile east toward the distribution centers for Amazon, Sephora
and other companies that will be moving into the site. A federal grant and FRI funds built the $3.6 million project in nine months.
Elsewhere, $6.6 million in FRI funds are underwriting improvements from the intersection of the 215 Beltway and Tropical Parkway east to its intersection with Linn Lane and then south on Linn Lane to El Campo Grande Avenue. The project will include an underground storm drainage collection system, asphalt lanes with raised medians, ADA ramps at intersections, asphalt sidewalks on the north side of Tropical Parkway and east side of Linn Lane, and street lighting.
"We are seeing extraordinary growth in the industrial and commercial sectors in North Las Vegas, which is diversifying and expanding the Southern Nevada economy,” North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee said. “Ensuring that people and goods can get to and from all of the new businesses we're recruiting requires enhanced transportation access. Thanks to FRI funding, we are able to make that happen and grow our regional infrastructure as our city grows.”
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