LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Traffic headaches in the valley may persist for over a year as the long-awaited “Dropicana” construction ”drops” on Tuesday.

It will be happening at Tropicana Avenue and Interstate 15. Some closures will only last days. Others will be with us for months.

Transportation officials call this a “valley-wide traffic event.” The closures have a lot to do with the bridge that carries traffic over I-15. It’s not tall enough for modern standards, and large trucks keep hitting it.

So they’re tearing it down and rebuilding it – a project that will impact traffic for a year.

The project will also widen sidewalks for pedestrians going to the T-Mobile Arena or Allegiant Stadium.

Starting Tuesday at 9 p.m., southbound drivers on I-15 will not be able to exit onto Tropicana in either direction. That will continue for two weeks.

The closure is in preparation for larger closures:

  • 8 DAYS: A hard close on Tropicana between Las Vegas Boulevard and over the freeway
  • 3 DAYS: A hard close on 1-15 in both directions between Russell Road and Flamingo Road

These hard closures will let up by Jan. 30. Access to Tropicana from I-15, and then getting across the highway on Tropicana, will be disrupted for nine to 18 months.

The I-15 southbound exit ramp closures vary depending on where you’re going. Westbound traffic on Tropicana traveling away from the Strip will be back to normal in nine months. The flyover ramp, which takes traffic toward the Strip, won’t be back to normal for 18 months.

What should drivers expect during these closures?

Remember the 12-mile traffic backup from Jean to the California state line around Christmas? Should drivers expect something similar?

That’s what we asked the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT).

“It certainly could happen,” Justin Hopkins, public information officer for NDOT, said.

“I mean the main message that we’re saying is, unless you are visiting one of the fabulous resorts on the Las Vegas Strip or you work down there, you’re better off just avoiding I-15 during the weekend of the closure,” Hopkins said. “It’s going to be heavy traffic, both north and southbound. And yes there’s a detour, but we don’t know if that detour is going to get very crowded very fast.”

The department couldn’t provide specifics on how much time drivers need to add to their commute.

But the Tropicana bridge over I-15 will be closed until the summer of 2024.

NDOT said there will be posted detours and extra police officers staffed in areas expected to see the most traffic congestion.

But with one of the busiest interchanges in Nevada closing, Hopkins said some preparation falls on the driver.

“We suggest using navigation apps like Waze and Apple Maps. I am in frequent contact with the real-life representatives from those apps and so they are very familiar with our closure area, our timing,” Hopkins said.

“The best bet is to — if you can avoid the area, do so — and if you do need to go to the Las Vegas Strip or one of the businesses along Tropicana Avenue, plan ahead and try and find the best route ahead of time,” he said.

Hopkins said traffic signal timing might be adjusted on roads impacted the most. That’s the most efficient way to get congested traffic moving along.

Nyla Marquez, a Las Vegas resident, and college student told 8 News Now she will plan on avoiding the area for now.

She also added that the closure combined with a holiday week could mean more traffic.

“It’s been rainy lately too and in certain weather cases like that, it might be that much harder for people to drive through construction but also the rain and just heavy traffic,” Marquez added. “The freeway may be a comfort for some people just because there’s a freeway everywhere, but it might be hard for people to navigate through the side streets and it might be traffic there too so it’s like where do I go?”

Helpful resources

Find the app by searching for “I-15 Trop.” It’s kept up to date with all the closures, detours, and other information you might need for the next 18 months.

NDOT has also set up a webpage focused on helpful resources for drivers which can be accessed by clicking here along with a weekday hotline at 702-876-TROP.