By Alan Snel, LVSportsBiz.com Publisher/Writer
Shovels will start moving dirt in 2025 for Phase 1 of the much-needed Legacy Trail to link West Summerlin and the Red Rock Scenic Drive in the first phase, Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones told LVSportsBiz.com
The trail can’t be built fast enough because traffic problems, crashes and reckless motorist behavior issues are mounting along the current stretch of State Route 159 from Summerlin’s Sky Vista Drive to the Bureau of Land Management’s Red Rock loop entrance in Red Rock Canyon.
This 5.5-mile stretch is just the first phase of a regional trail project designed to increase safety for bicyclists, families, walkers and runners while improving access to Red Rock Canyon’s scenic landscape. The overall trail project is budgeted for more than $100 million, including the $33 million phase 1.
Here’s a look at the trail layout and the phases:
After meeting Wednesday with officials from the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Nevada Department of Transportation, Clark County, Summerlin master developer Howard Hughes Corporation and other agencies, Jones said Thursday that a traffic signal will start to be installed later in 2023 at SR 159 and Sky Vista Drive — a dangerous intersection where ambulances have been known to transport all types of crashed road users because of the poorly designed intersection.
Jones was hoping the traffic signal installation at Sky Vista and SR 159 would be coupled with the construction of a parking lot near the intersection.
The Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) has capped funding at $18 million for the first phase, so trail developers are looking at amending an expensive aspect — building an underpass below SR 159 as part of the trail project. Eliminating the need for the underpass could save a lot of money, Jones noted.
Wednesday’s meeting participants were “looking for opportunities for problem-solving when it comes to the issues, particularly with regard with the trailhead parking lot and the crossing,” said Jones, who chairs the RTC board and is an active bicyclist who knows Red Rock Canyon well.
This trail is necessary “to improve safety and improve access,” Jones said. He’s well aware of the driver speeding and reckless motorists who imperil the lives of bicyclists, joggers and walkers between Summerlin and the Red Rock Scenic Drive entrance.
“The trail opens up opportunities for families, seniors, runners and bicyclists who are not comfortable with the conditions on 159,” Jones said.
The first federal FLAP grants for this trail were made in 2018 — five years ago. Non-profit group Save Red Rock, spearheaded by Blue Diamond bicyclist Heather Fisher and other organizers, has advocated for this trail for many years.
The FLAP money is designed for projects like trails that will provide access to federal lands while also be built well away from roads. The Legacy Trail fits the bill.
The Nevada Department of Transportation spent last year gathering ideas and suggestions from Red Rock Canyon road users about making SR 159 safer. It’s unclear why the NDOT needs to be told over and over that the speed limit needs to be reduced, the trail needs to be built, state troopers need to patrol the corridor more and signs need to be installed about where people should park and make U-turns.
Jones acknowledged the delay in building the Legacy Trail has been, in his words, “frustrating.” But he plans to keep the conversation going about other phases of the trail as BLM and DOT officials study the costs of specific trail routes while balancing access to scenic land and cost-saving measures.