LAS VEGAS, NV – According to reports, a light-rail system set along the Maryland Parkway corridor is currently being mulled over by Clark County city officials; if brought to fruition, the project would connect the downtown area with the University of Nevada, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, and McCarran International Airport. This development is seen to represent a major boon to the region, as once up and running, the nearly 9 mile, $750 million project could possibly result in upwards of $3 billion in local investments in offices, retail, entertainment, and housing development along its planned route. These estimates are based upon the positive financial impacts that similar railway projects have had in other American cities, including Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona.
The Regional Transportation Commission is currently set to announce their decision on the railway in September; if approved, the project is slated to be up and running by 2025. There are no indications yet if the RTC is leaning one way or the other on the potential light-rail system, but it’s known that they are also considering other, more cost-efficient choices to improve transportation along the Maryland Parkway corridor – an area that many experts feel is ripe for development – including a roadway improvement initiative with an estimated cost of approximately $29 million; however, the addition of some much-needed rapid transit lanes for buses could possibly run an additional $335 million. Expensive, yes, but still cheaper than the proposed train line.
However, the railway system has a great many supporters, and development is already underway; G2 Capital Development has invested heavily in this regard, as they are currently building University Gateway, a $60 million, eight-story mixed-use project along the Maryland Parkway corridor, in addition to a parking garage nearby. G2 has also purchased commercial development situated along the parkway – Campus Village – that may see a face-lift in the future if business warrants it. If the railway project comes to light, developer Mike Saltman has also announced his intention to construct a shopping center at one of the railway stations.
While $750 million isn’t chump change, the taxpayers of Clark County likely won’t have to foot the entire bill if the RTC approves the project; currently, county officials are looking into the possibility of acquiring a federal New Starts grant that could cover up to half of the costs associated with the project. In addition, local residents may get the chance to cast their votes for or against a possible hike of sales taxes that, if passed, would also contribute to the costs of the light-rail system. But before any federal grants would be applied for, the plans for the project would have to pass scrutiny in terms of any possible environmental impact they may have upon the proposed route, as well as review any public concerns along with any potential alternate projects.
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