I-515 was built both to relieve traffic traveling south from Las Vegas on Route 15, and to improve highway access into the southeastern part of Clark County to Henderson.
Project Type:Limited Access Road Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:92,000 Length (mi):5.90
Economic Distress:1.17 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):225 Population Growth Rate (%):0.02
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.51 Market Size:9,367 Airport Travel Distance:70.4 Topography:12
Region:Southwest State:NV County:Burleson County
City:Henderson Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:City Henderson
Impact Area:Burleson County Transportation System:National Highway System GIS Lat/Long:36.092543 / -115.073927
Initial Study Date:1992 Post Constr. Study Date:2004
Constr. Start Date:1990 Constr. End Date:1994
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2004 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):140,550,248 Actual Cost (curr $):173,330,673
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||43.87||89.57||133.44|
|Output (in $M's)||122.31||117.42||239.73|
Interstate 515 is a spur of Interstate 15 in the Las Vegas Valley of Nevada. In the north, it begins in downtown Las Vegas and runs approximately 20 miles southeast to Henderson. Construction began in 1982 and continued through 1994. This case study is concerned with the final portion of the highway to be completed between Lake Mead Drive (SR 564) at I-215 and the Boulder Highway (exit 70). The highway was commissioned as an interstate in 1995 and is referred to locally as US 95 because the highway continues north and west of Las Vegas as US 95. An estimated 850 jobs can be directly attributed to the highway.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
I-515 is located in the Las Vegas Valley in southern Nevada, extending 20 miles from the junction of I-15, US 93, and US 95 in downtown Las Vegas southeast to the South Boulder Highway in southeastern Henderson. The last leg of the highway to be built, a 5.9 mile section of highway from Lake Mead Drive (SR 564) at I-215 to the South Boulder Highway in Henderson, is the subject of this case study. This portion of the highway was built between 1990 and 1994 at a cost of $140 million.
In the north, this section of I-515 intersects with State Route 564 and I-215. State Route 564 extends east from this interchange, and I-215 extends west, providing direct access to McCarran International Airport, the principle airport serving the Las Vegas region. Farther north, I-515 intersects with I-15 in downtown Las Vegas. Future plans call for extending I-515 along US 93 through Boulder City, and perhaps at some time to Phoenix, AZ. A new interchange has recently opened connecting I-515 and I-215.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Henderson, Nevada, is the second largest city in the state, encompassing 79.7 square miles, and is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Between 1990 and 2007, the population of the city increased from 64,942 to an estimated 249,386, or 284%. By comparison, between 1992 and 2006, Clark County (which includes both Las Vegas and Henderson) grew by 107%, and the state of Nevada by 84%. Employment also increased rapidly. Between 1992 and 2007, employment in Henderson increased by 603%, from 8,426 jobs to 59,266 jobs. Comparatively, between 1992 and 2006, Clark County employment increased from 478,884 to 1,141,179 (138%) and employment in the state increased from 785,607 to 1,611,936 (105%). Clark County is considerably more developed than the state, with a density of 225 people per square mile compared to 23 people per square mile in the state as a whole.
The Township of Henderson began to grow in the 1940s, as it was a major supplier for magnesium, an important component used in the manufacturing of war-related products. After World War II, the magnesium plants shut down, and a large portion of the population moved away. The federal government considered selling the town as surplus property until the State of Nevada stepped in and took over the old magnesium plants. The City of Henderson was incorporated in 1953, and the economy continued to be tied to manufacturing until 1988, when a major fire destroyed a rocket fuel factory. After that time, the city recreated itself as a center for recreation, building on its proximity to Las Vegas. It is home to many people who work in the Las Vegas entertainment and gaming industries as well as to many world-renowned entertainers. In 2006, Money Magazine ranked the city 20th on its list of 100 most livable cities.
I-515 was built both to relieve traffic traveling south from Las Vegas on Route 15 and to improve highway access into the southeastern part of Clark County to Henderson. The highway would replace the Boulder Highway, a divided highway with curb cuts and stop lights, as the main artery leading into Las Vegas from the southeast.
The 5.9-mile portion of I-515 between I-215 and the South Boulder Highway varies between two and three lanes in each direction and includes four exits. It passes through older residential neighborhoods and provides access to the College of Southern Nevada’s Henderson campus, which is located at Exit 57 (College Drive). The southern portion of the roadway passes through a warehouse and industrial area that was established at this location because of available rail service.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The average annual daily trips on I-515 in 2007 was 52,000 just north of its terminus at the South Boulder Highway, and 92,000 just south of the intersection with SR 564/I-215. This is traffic that had been traveling on the South Boulder Highway, which now carries an average of 28,000 vehicles per day.
In 2004, the Nevada Department of Transportation completed an I-515 Corridor Study in anticipation of needed upgrades to support growth in vehicle trips over the next several years. That study calls for increasing the highway to five lanes in each direction, as well as several improvements to interchanges.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
As one of the fastest growing communities in the United States, development has exploded in Henderson over the past 20 years. Officials and businesses interviewed for this case study stressed that the city was poised for development with or without the development of I-515. Planners and realtors both noted that residential development in Henderson and in the corridor is not a result of the transportation access provided by the highway. Instead, as Henderson became a center of development, developers purchased land wherever they could for housing. Much of the new development in Henderson has happened in 27 master planned communities in the city, only one of which is in the study corridor. The area of the city experiencing the most growth is located to the southwest, nearer to I-15 (which connects to Southern California) and I-215. Another fast growing area is in the northwest, west of the Boulder Highway and with good access to the Lake Mead recreation area.
Most of the development in the I-515 corridor is happening north of the I-215 interchange.
However, planners did identify commercial developments at three of the four interchanges along the highway that have been influenced by access to I-515.
In the Southeast quadrant of the intersection between Lake Mead Drive (SR 564), I-515, and I-215, a new casino and hotel opened and has recently expanded. The casino complex, including the hotel, employs an estimated 735 employees. I-515 was one of the influences that attracted the casino to this location, although planners suggest that proximity to I-215 and access to the airport was more important.
Two strip commercial developments have sprouted up at the West Horizon Drive interchange. These developments include a range of uses including restaurants and bars, car washes, a tire store, a fitness center, a CVS pharmacy, a supermarket, convenience stores, personal services, and small offices. An estimated 472 people work in these businesses.
At the Wagonwheel/Conestoga interchange, some additional commercial development has occurred. This is of smaller scale and includes a convenience store with a gas station, an unattended car wash, a lounge, and a mini-storage facility. Total employment at these facilities is approximately 121. Based on discussions with planners and developers and on analysis of data, an estimated 800 of the jobs located at interchanges within the corridor can be attributed to the access provided by I-515.
According to the Henderson Economic and Demographic Overview – 2009, none of the city’s major commercial corridors are near interchanges along this section of I-515. The Conestoga Business Park, an older park located near the railroad service, is the only industrial park in the corridor, and its location was selected based on proximity to the rail service.
Eleven percent of Henderson’s land area is in commercial and industrial uses, and 24% is residential. Forty-three percent of the land within the city limits remains vacant. Future growth is targeted to the southwestern part of the city. A small area just southeast of the southern terminus of I-515 is the only targeted growth area served by the corridor.
While planners in the study region feel the highway has had limited impact on employment growth in the I-515 study corridor, an analysis of zip code employment data indicate that the study area has grown substantially faster than the adjacent zip code located adjacent to and southeast of the southern terminus of I-515. The study corridor includes two zip codes, in which employment grew by 136% between 1994 and 2006. The adjacent zip code, located in Boulder City, experienced employment growth of 58% over the same time period, while employment in the state grew by 86%. These numbers indicate that the portion of I-515 included in this case study may have had a greater influence on employment growth than local officials recognize. It should also be noted that it is difficult to distinguish the impact of I-515 from that of I-215 and SR 564 on growth in one of the study area zip codes because the area covered by the zip code borders these other two fast-growing corridors.
Henderson is among the fastest growing cities in the nation. The city has made it a goal to be a pro-business community and has developed an on-line permit tracking system and a coordinated planning and approval process to help developers through the permitting process. Property tax rates are among the lowest in Nevada. It is home to the Multigenerational Center, the largest recreational facility in southern Nevada.
Nevada has low business taxes and no corporate or personal income tax. Its workers’ compensation laws are favorable to businesses, significantly limiting liability and exposure to claims. In a recent national study, the Las Vegas region ranked number one as the least expensive location for corporate headquarters.
The entire Las Vegas area has exploded in population and employment because of a perceived high quality of life and lower than average cost of living. Henderson has developed master planned communities that provide amenities to attract new residents to Henderson.
City of Henderson
Nevada Department of Transportation
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
Case Study Developed by Susan Jones Moses & Associates