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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Contact: Nancy Singer, Brian C. Keeter, 202-366-0660
FHWA 15-04

Federal Highway Administrator and Nevada Governor Meet to Address Costly Delays to U.S. 95 Widening Work

Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters today met with Governor Kenny Guinn and state transportation officials to discuss ways to get the stalled U.S. 95 widening project in Las Vegas back on track as quickly as possible.

"The Bush Administration is working with the State of Nevada to explore every possible solution," said Peters. "As we're taking the necessary steps through the court system, we're also working closely with the state to keep parts of the project not affected by the court's decision moving forward."

Construction on U.S. 95 was put on hold last month because of a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay any widening work on the project until its final ruling.

Peters said the FHWA is assisting the Nevada Department of Transportation so that work does not stop on drainage, sound walls and other aspects of the project still allowed by this legal ruling. In addition, FHWA is also working closely with the Department of Justice on legal briefs explaining why the U.S. 95 project should be restarted. The government's briefs will be submitted to the appellate court in October.

The U.S. 95 project would widen key sections of the corridor, construct high-occupancy vehicle lanes in each direction and utilize a number of innovative technologies, such as ramp metering and monitoring sensors, designed to maximize traffic flow.

The halted U.S. 95 project would significantly reduce congestion and improve safety if completed, Peters noted. Each day, 190,000 vehicles travel through the corridor, and the number is expected to significantly increase as the Las Vegas population surges. Between 2000 and 2002, there were 3,535 crashes on one section of the highway.

Without the planned widening, drivers are forced to spend longer periods making their way through congested areas. Average peak hour traffic now consists of 11,900 vehicles on the 6-lane highway, where congestion allows cars to travel less than half the speed allowed on the 55 mph stretch of road. Estimates indicate that even a mild increase in the speed vehicles could travel the route would save the public more than $8.5 million annually in delay costs.

The construction delay is also costly to Nevada taxpayers. Delays to contractors, as well as uncertainties on the upcoming bids, will cost the state an additional $7 million per year.

"Southern Nevada drivers are stuck in traffic because an 11th hour appeal blocked a project vital to the region," said Peters. "That's why the Bush Administration is working to find the best way to get it restarted and help keep commuters and the Nevada economy on the move."

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