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April 23, 2014

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West Las Vegas:

It feels monumental’: Ground is broken on long-awaited F Street project

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Leila Navidi

Trish Geran of the F Street Coalition celebrates during a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction project to reopen F Street on Monday, May 6, 2013 near downtown Las Vegas.

F Street Groundbreaking

All those involved with the project participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction project to reopen F Street on Monday, May 6, 2013 near downtown Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

F Street

Saul Willis has lived on the corner of F Street and McWilliams Avenue for 12 years and runs an auto repair business out of his home garage. Willis claims to not have received a letter of warning about the closure of F Street, which is less than a block away from his home. Launch slideshow »

As residents of the historic West Las Vegas neighborhood took turns shoveling dirt as part of a groundbreaking ceremony on F Street Monday evening, the culmination of years of work was summarized by a simple phrase muttered among the crowd.

“It’s coming down.”

Since 2009, the high walls supporting Interstate 15 have served as a physical and symbolic barrier blocking F Street and the downtown neighborhood it runs through from the services, amenities and economic redevelopment taking place on the other side of the highway.

The road was disconnected from the rest of downtown when an underpass was eliminated as part of an I-15 widening project, drawing protests from residents who in the years since have campaigned, marched and spent countless hours meeting with city and state officials in efforts to get it reopened.

Monday night, they celebrated a major milestone — the groundbreaking for construction that will lead to the street being reopened and the neighborhood reconnected by the end of next year.

“It feels monumental. It feels like the community is getting the well-deserved respect it’s earned,” said Trish Geran, chairwoman of the F Street Coalition and one of many community leaders who led the fight to reopen the street. “It’s a starting point … I think the community will only go up from here.”

The $13.6 million F Street Connection Project, which is being funded through a combination of local, state and federal dollars, promises to provide new life and opportunity for the economically challenged West Las Vegas neighborhood.

But before that goal can be accomplished, months of disruptive construction will have to take place. The project’s contractor, Las Vegas Paving Corp., plans to start initial preparation to build the underpass in June, which will be followed by five months of lane closures along I-15 north of the Spaghetti Bowl starting in July to construct bridges over F Street.

The last time traffic was so restricted on a section of I-15 was when the highway was widened in 2009, which was also the construction that led to the closure of F Street, said Mario Gomez, an assistant district engineer with the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Once the project is completed in late 2014, it will intersect with City Parkway near Bonanza Road.

It will also include improvements to sidewalks and landscaping along the street stretching to Washington Avenue, plus signage and murals along the bridges to celebrate the neighborhood’s history.

“Projects like this just don’t happen without citizen involvement and citizen engagement,” said Las Vegas City Manager Betsy Fretwell. “We appreciate all that work. It takes a lot of time and effort to show up to 20-plus meetings, share your ideas, maybe argue about a few of them, but it all worked out in the wash. We really came up with a good project that people are going to be proud of.”

Community activist Shondra Summers-Armstrong said reconnecting F Street will serve the practical purpose of making it easier for residents of the neighborhood to get in and out of the area. But she hopes it has the added impact of inviting people and businesses in.

“We don’t just want this to be a road our residents take to get home,” she said. “We want people to also come and see us and the potential that’s here.”

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  1. Congratulations to my friends who fought for the reopening of F Street. When the opening is completed, it will be one victory in a long saga of racial oppression in Southern Nevada. I have provided a timeline of some of these events at http://streetsociologist.blogspot.com/20...

  2. The next time the City of Las Vegas cries we're broke and need to raise taxes, remind them of the $13.6 million spent here on political correctness. D Street is a mere 500 feet away from F Street and connects to downtown. But when anybody screams racism, these GUTLESS politicians cower and hide, then shell out big bucks to "rectify" the situation.

    Political correctness run amok

    I drive the 215 east to the 15 south home everyday and after the interchange was completed a year or two ago I can no longer exit Blue Diamond east, it's a west bound exit only now. No doubt I have to continue to live with this frustration because it's not a "racial" issue.

  3. Money better spent invested in a local school no?

  4. Congratulations Trish and Matt! You did it! The "Berlin Wall" has fallen.

  5. In 1988, as a member of the Clark County Regional Transportation Commission, I voted in the majority to approve an East-West thoroughfare concept linking St. Rose Parkway in Henderson with Owens Ave. in Las Vegas. It encompassed connecting Industrial Rd, Dean Martin Dr, Grand Central Pky, and F Street to become an alternative way to cross the valley rivaling Eastern Ave. It would have brought thousands of motorists through the Westside each day and encouraged new businesses to open there. Somehow, the idea was scrapped after the closure of F Street. I hope the worthwhile project can now be revisited.

  6. To rcpolk97, read my post again. A freeway exit was deleted from my daily route home from work. I now have to take a longer route.....but I am not DEMANDING the east bound Blue Diamond exit from 215/15 be replaced at a substantial cost to taxpayers.

    Note: If you take the 15 south and exit Blue Diamond you can exit east or west. However, if you take the 215 east to 15 south, there is a barrier wall keeping you from entering the freeway until AFTER Blue Diamond, unless you want to exit Blue Diamond WEST only. It was never like this before the recent completion of the 15/215 interchange and frontage lanes.

  7. @Noindex.....croc tears, dude, croc tears!

  8. When them that don't have win a victory for their communities, it must be political correcteness, When those that have win, it must have been earned by hard work and gumption.

  9. What an absolute waste of money. IF the closure were racially driven, the closure would have gone well beyond just "F" street. There are underpasses two blocks in either direction yet some small loud group cries racism and the city finds 13 million dollars to fix something that is not broken.
    Political correctness is out of control. the groups that scream over non issues such as this are doing the city a disservice.