Vegas Monorail Launch Plan for Stadium Extension: CEG

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas monorail operators are presenting a plan to county lawmakers to extend elevated people-carrying closer to the site where a 65,000-seat football stadium could be built.

Monorail officials are set to petition the Clark County Commission for up to two years on Wednesday to arrange funding to extend the 3.9-mile track to about a mile further up the Strip – from the current end of the line to the MGM Grand complex at Mandalay Bay.

A pedestrian bridge could then be constructed to span Interstate 15 to a proposed stadium site.

Previous estimates put the cost of a monorail extension at $100 million, but system spokeswoman Ingrid Reisman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/2f6EuHB) that the costs would depend on the designs.

State lawmakers last month approved a $1.9 billion stadium funding package, including $750 million in hotel tax funds, in hopes of enticing the NFL Oakland Raiders to relocate in Las Vegas.

Billionaire casino magnate and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson has pledged $650 million for the stadium, while the Raiders and NFL have pledged $500 million.

County Commission Chairman and Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee Member Steve Sisolak said a monorail extension connecting major convention venues in Las Vegas makes sense.

“Something needs to be done with transportation on the Strip corridor and with convention centers,” Sisolak told the Review-Journal. “There has to be a better way to move some of these people.”

The monorail began operating in 2004 along a Z-shaped route east of the Strip, with a trip from the Sands Expo at the Venetian to the Las Vegas Convention Center to the MGM Grand taking approximately 14 minutes .

Adelson’s company owns the Sands Expo, Venetian and Palazzo complexes. The Adelson family owns the Review-Journal.

The monorail had a troubled financial history and never reached the proposed 19 million-a-year ridership projections before state lawmakers approved tax-exempt bond funding and construction began. in 2001.

Monorail ridership in 2015 was 5.1 million, the Review-Journal reported, well below the 7.9 million passengers carried in 2007.

The system filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2010 after failing to repay construction and start-up costs. It emerged from bankruptcy proceedings in 2012 with its nonprofit status intact.

Plans to extend the line 2 miles to McCarran International Airport and 2.5 miles to downtown Las Vegas never materialized.

The Monorail Strip extension was included in a traffic assessment commissioned by the Nevada Department of Transportation.

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