The first major addition to the federal interstate system since 1992, the opening of the initial stretch of Interstate 11 was touted today as the beginning of a larger story.
The $315 million project between Hoover Dam and Henderson finished two months ahead of schedule.
The Nevada Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada worked on the 15-mile stretch.
“This just shows you what can be done when everyone comes together,” said U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
Ultimately, I-11 is expected to connect Canada and Mexico. Before that, it will link the two largest cities not connected by an interstate — Las Vegas and Phoenix.
The Arizona Department of Transportation is working to identify funding for construction. Nevada is also planning the where I-11 will pass through Las Vegas and beyond.
The new stretch of I-11 will allow some 34,000 vehicles a day to bypass Boulder City, eliminating traffic backups. But some business owners in Boulder City are concerned.
“I definitely worry about the lack of good signage coming from the Las Vegas valley towards the Hoover Dam for the people to know that there is a town that has shopping, retail, restaurants and other businesses,” said Terry Stevens, who owns the Coffee Cup restaurant.
Stevens estimates about 20 percent of his business comes from people who stumble upon the restaurant while passing through town on U.S. 93.
“Those are the people that I fear that won’t be here,” Stevens said. “We’re the town that built the Hoover Dam, and now the bypass goes right around us with no off-ramp.”