LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Las Vegas Boulevard Construction Project through Downtown Las Vegas is nearing the end of three construction years, but businesses still report losing customers.

Cassandra Watson-Mihelcic City of Las Vegas engineering project manager oversees it all. She 
called the work along the boulevard between Sahara and Stewart the city’s largest public 
works roadway project in history.

A price tag of $125 million has since been lowered to roughly $110 million, she said, paid
for with funding provided by the Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission’s Fuel 
Revenue Indexing tax, Las Vegas Valley Water District, the City of Las Vegas and the 
Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial. 

“We’re almost there, we can see the light,” Watson-Mihelcic said Thursday afternoon on the 
a new platform near the Strat Hotel to view the Las Vegas Boulevard Gateway Arches.

The project, which also includes other road work along the 2.5-mile stretch of the boulevard,
 began in April 2020 with an intended end of April 2023. The project manager said
construction may potentially finish before the April 27 scheduled end date.

The project ventures to replace underground utilities, some of which were first installed in 
the 1940s. “Smart city” infrastructure is also being installed to support future automated
vehicle operations.

“We found a wooden water line at the very beginning of the project,” Watson-Mihelcic said 
while describing the “desperate” need to replace certain utilities along the stretch of road.
“We can rely or depend on the fact that (the boulevard is) going to be in a good state for a
long time to come.”

Pedestrian safety is also intended to improve with 10-to-15-feet-wide sidewalks, repaved 
curbs, new traffic signals and access to bus stops, and added medians and bollards. This is
in addition to beautification measures, such as planting 200 new trees, installing new 
electrical signage and increasing the height of the two showgirl statues at the Main Street

But, with the positives come the negatives. Business owners located near the construction
say they have consistently seen fewer customers because of it.

Felix Arellano owns Viva Las Arepas near the southern portion of the project. He says he’s
lost a quarter of his customer base as it has become more difficult to find nearby parking.

“(There’s) still construction after two years. As you see, they have cones everywhere and I
don’t understand why,” Arellano said outside his restaurant Thursday afternoon, pointing to
nearby construction. “The streets look cleaner, look nicer. More light and everything, but 
everything has taken time.”

For the Grand Hotel and Casino, Assistant General Manager Erik Buksa says headcounts have 
consistently been down by 30%. Not only is this project confusing travelers, but so
are the other roadway projects surrounding the building, he says.

“A majority of the guests are tourists, so if they’re not familiar with the area, they’re 
going to have trouble finding us with all the construction,” Buksa said inside the casino
Thursday afternoon. 

The city says it has worked with businesses to minimize these business impacts, such as
conducting certain work at night or providing other access to buildings. 

“We understand that it’s going to be an impact, but I think overall, at the end of the day,
it’s going to be a great project that’s going to bring a lot more people Downtown,” 
Watson-Mihelcic said.

Businesses are hopeful for the results to come, but in the meantime, acknowledge they’re
still losing profit.

“Guests are going to be able to find us more easily. The noise from the construction and
just the dust and the mess, it’s going to make our area look a lot cleaner and more
inviting,” Buksa said.

“Everything takes time. I understand,” Arellano said. When asked if he expects to ever see
his quarter of lost customers again, he replied, “Who knows? We’ll have to wait and see.”

The city adds that most of the work is complete and crews are now focusing on “the 
finishing touches” such as installing street lights and traffic signals and ensuring 
connectivity with certain underground utilities.