Tag Archives: Nevada travel

Nevada Bill Proposed to Stem Anti-Resort Travel Policies by U.S. Government

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently introduced a bill that would make it against the law for government bureaucrats to implement travel policies that prohibit official travel to destinations “perceived to be a resort or vacation destination.” 

Reid’s bill, called the “Protecting Resort Cities from Discrimination Act of 2009,” is the result of months of bureaucrat wrangling and issued in response to reports of myriad federal offices banning travel to resort destinations (especially Las Vegas) in favor of more staid locations.

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Best Dam Sight in Las Vegas

If you’ve driven over the Hoover Dam, you know it’s not the most relaxing thing you’ve ever done. Far from it.  The drive is torturously slow, usually with the traffic backed up for as far as the eye can see.  

But all that’s changing.   The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is about to reach a milestone event, with the final piece of the supporting concrete arch to be placed on the $240 million bypass project by the second week of August, thanks to the hard work of some 1,200 construction workers and 300 engineers that have battled Southern Nevada’s extreme heat and high winds. HooverDambypass

Spanning 1,900 feet across the Black Canyon just south of the dam, the 1,060-foot arch will be the longest in the Western Hemisphere.  In two months, after the arch is completed, the temporary cables will be removed. 

When the whole schmazel is complete in late 2010, it will provide for four lanes of traffic 900 feet above the Colorado River, providing a more convenient and much safer way to traverse the Black Canyon and travel between Arizona and Nevada.

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Take a Las Vegas Gambling & Sin Break- Dig for Dinosaur Bones!

Las Vegas is not just all about bright lights and glitz.  For a break from gambling and sin, take a unique and refreshing six-hour trip outside Las Vegas, and you’ll find a much cooler environment – 30 to 40 degrees – that’s a quarry for the really unlucky bastards- creatures called trilobites, the partiers that freely roamed the ocean floors 500 million years ago (pre Paris Hilton).trilobyte

It’s a 40-acre wide place called U-Dig Fossils, a trilobite quarry located about 52 miles west of Deltah, Utah.   You can scale large mountaintops and break into rocks to try to find the original partiers for $28 to $70 from Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  For further information: 435-864-3638 or www.u-digfossils.com

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Speeding Tourists into Las Vegas at 150 or 300 mph – or not at all?

Sooner of later, most predict, the stagnant Las Vegas economy will recover.  The only question is what the crowning stimulus will be and when will it happen.  To have over 42 million visitors annually to come to Las Vegas and stay in the projected 157,000 hotel rooms projected by 2011, bringing about a true economic recovery, what better of an enticing solution than to provide a high-speed train to supplant current driving and flying modes, whisking riders between Las Vegas and Southern California, the route usually taken by visiting tourists.maglev

It sounds like a good idea to goose Nevada and Southern California tourism numbers, but is it really a viable solution?  Political jaw flapping has been ballyhooed for years and especially now with the $8 billion in federal money available for competing fast trains that offer the best solution.

Two alternative proposals are currently on the table.  One is a publicly-funded maglev train, smoothly propelling tourists at speeds up to 300 mph by magnetic levitation into Ontario, California, close to the airport and hub for Southern California.  It uses a technology untried in this country because it is so expensive to build. The price tag- $12 billion.

The other is the DesertXpress, which would use traditional steel wheels on steel tracks, driven at speeds up to 150 mph with electric or diesel-electric power. It would end in the desert town of Victorville, requiring more than an hour’s drive to get to the terminus  proposed by the the maglev. Although the $4 billion project was pitched as a privately funded venture, its backers say now they may seek government loans.

Both of the proposed lines would transport passengers between Las Vegas and Southern California in about 80 minutes for about $50 — with one going at half the speed and covering two-thirds the distance of the other.

The choices raise pivotal questions as the nation weighs its appetite for risk and considers whether such a system should be in public versus private hands.   Would people in these financially trying times even consider hopping aboard either of these futuristic trains?  Las Vegas Backstage Access contends that that’s the key statistical profile that first needs to be researched prior to any determination on which method, if any, is best to deploy. 

This week, the federal Transportation Department is planned to unveil guidelines for those seeking to apply for a portion of the $8 billion passed by Congress as part of the economic recovery package. Decisions will be made this year.   Hopefully, the guidelines will follow from a robust, statistically valid needs analysis.

The maglev project desperately needs public dollars and has appealed to Obama’s transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, for $1.8 billion to develop the first segment — from Las Vegas to the state line at Primm — and to continue planning the rest of the route.

DesertXpress Enterprises LLC has shunned federal aid, promising to be privately financed and turn a profit, a feat no other modern rail line has been able to accomplish in this country. But it is also in the market for federal loans.

If the maglev project gets a federal boost of stimulus dollars, it could make it difficult for DesertXpress backers to raise private equity. If DesertXpress can leverage its newfound support from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, it could knock maglev out of the picture.

Maglev’s boosters say that even if DesertXpress is constructed, it will still pursue its own project. But skeptics doubt there is sufficient appetite, financial or otherwise, for the Federal Railroad Administration to permit both trains.

This maglev project is the brainchild of the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission, a highfalutin name for a nonprofit entity formed in 1988 with the sole purpose of developing a fast train between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The commission, made up of private citizens and public officials, entertained several technologies before choosing magnetic levitation in 1991 and choosing American Magline Group as its developer in 1993.

The maglev train,  proposed originally in 2002, proposes to zoom passengers between Vegas and the Disneyland area, enabling tourists in either city to experience the other, just 80 minutes away, without need of automobile. The northbound maglev would stop in Ontario to connect with the airport, and would stop southbound stop at Ivanpah, to connect with an airport planned for there. The project could break ground in 2011.

With California separately building a north-south high-speed train line between San Francisco and Orange County, the maglev team envisions passengers being able to connect to the California train at its stop in Anaheim station to continue to Los Angeles’ Union Station.

Groundbreaking for the California network could happen in as little as the next few years, funded by an $11 billion bond issue approved by California voters last year.  It is considered a front-runner in being awarded federal stimulus money.

Maglev critics, though, deride the technology as wishful futurism, and transportation experts say it is maglev’s price tag, not the science, that has left it undeveloped in this country.

In fact, the world’s only operating commercial maglev line links Shanghai and Pudong International Airport — a 19-mile-long run completed in 7 1/2 minutes.

That system, now in its ninth upgrade, is what American Magline wants to build between Anaheim, California and Las Vegas.

Not only Reid, but much of Nevada’s political class has at times supported the maglev train. And then DesertXpress plans emerged, relatively suddenly, to pose a competitive challenge.  That has left lawmakers to rework their support. Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, a former commission member as an appointee of three governors, thinks maglev is the “technology of the future,” but is now giving some thought to DesertXpress, her spokesman said.  Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley is among those who support “whichever one is successful.”  Sitting on fence.

Over the years, the commission has raised $10 million for maglev — more than $7 million in federal allocations championed mainly by Reid and more than $2 million in state and local funding.

Internal Revenue Service filings from recent years show that most of the commission’s annual expenditures go to the American Magline Group, the consortium of private companies that is developing the project.

Rail lines are an expensive undertaking:  Before a single track is laid, millions are spent drafting the inches-thick environmental review required by the federal government.

After two decades, the commission’s maglev project is suddenly losing the paper war.In just a few short years, the DesertXpress backers have spent $25 million producing an environmental report.  DesertXpress is the nation’s only privately financed train proposal before the Transportation Department’s Federal Railroad Administration.

If their plan is approved this year, DesertXpress backers say, they can raise private funding and break ground in 2010. Earlier groundbreakings have been postponed.

Although Reid secured another $45 million last year for maglev, the money has not been spent because the commission had been unable to raise the required matching funds until American Magline Group contributed the $11 million two months ago.

Should precursor rider statistics first staunchily justify the real feasibility/usage of any high-speed train, before reviewing and selecting of any particluar method, Las Vegas Backstage Access would favor the maglev proposal.  

The DesertXpress appears to be a dead-end train to nowhere proposal, a mass transit system doomed to economic and ridership failure from the get-go.  Few riders from Las Vegas, it is believed, would relish the idea of stopping in desolate Victorville and then wait to catch another train or rent a car to drive or find an airline to fly their last leg across the Mojave Desert to Southern California, adding considerable more time and expense to their trip.   

The maglev train would provide a relatively more successful ridership and would greatly boost Las Vegas tourism numbers and relieve traffic congestion at McCarran International Airport, on the I-15 freeway and in Clark County, especially along the Strip corridor. Without having the maglev option, passengers could just as easily and economically fly the entire route in one stop.  And more may just opt to do the usual four-hour plus grueling drive. Looking to long-term debt, the DesertXpress would most likely be severely challenged and potentially cause much more relative public funding than the maglev to stay afloat.

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Nevada Cops Issue Tickets Like Crazy

If you’re travel plans call for driving to Nevada over this holiday weekend, be careful- be very careful. Nevada sheriffs handed out thousands of tickets on Nevada highways last weekend, mostly for speeding.   One can only imagine how many tickets will be issued over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

Between last Friday and Monday, the Nevada Sheriff Highway Patrol issued 4,074 tickets, as well as helping remove 21 suspected impaired drivers from the road and arrested 31 people for outstanding arrest warrants.

The tickets handed out included:

* 3,020 speeding violations.
* 113 seatbelt infractions.
* 17 child restraint infractions.
* 154 Gaming and Liquor Act violations.
* 47 failing to stop at a stop sign infractions.
* 134 other hazardous violations such as careless driving, stunting.
* 589 non-hazardous violations such as no insurance, suspended drivers.

The Nevada Sheriff Highway Patrol, launched in 2006, conducts traffic enforcement on the state’s highways. When asked whether or not many of the speeding tickets could have been avoided, the NSHP responded:  “There are plenty of online resources available for people to use. Programs such as www.TrafficTicketInformation.com offer tons of good advice on how to go about dealing with a traffic ticket.”

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Nevada Travel & Tourism Sales Blitz This Week

Some may still not feel promoting Nevada travel and tourism benefits is a good idea in our stagnating economy, especially following President Obama’s February comments about frivolous travel in Las Vegas by corporations that accepted federal bailout money.  

But don’t tell that to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman or casino mogul Steve Wynn.  Both want to bend the ear – and more – of President Obama when he vists Las Vegas on May 26 and headlines a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.  (Las Vegas Backstage Access April 1 article.) 

Wynn wants Obama to specifically address Nevada tourism.  “The people that voted in the Democratic Party, for the main part, work in the tourism and travel industry as cooks and waiters and housekeeping,” Wynn said. “They are being hit very hard not only by the recession but by federal policy that has discouraged travel.” 

Providing added fuel to boost Nevada’s flailing tourism industry, six Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) staffers have taken to the road early today for a western sales “blitz” during National Travel and Tourism Week to promote special travel deals designed to boost Nevada visitor numbers, according to NCOT chairperson and Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki. 

The sales team will visit travel agents, tour operators, AAA offices and other influential tourism industry representatives in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. Several tourism industry partners from around the state will accompany the staff members from NCOT’s Sales and Industry Partners department. 

“There’s no better time for fun in Nevada than now, because of the special travel deals at hotels, golf courses, shops, spas and entertainment venues throughout the state. It’s a productive way for NCOT to observe this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week and a great way to attract more visitors in this current economy,” says Krolicki.   

The team will visit AAA offices that advise consumers about travel destinations, tour operators that bring groups of customers to Nevada and receptive operators who help with arrangements in the state. At each stop they will distribute USB flash drives that contain the new NCOT Industry Partners Newsletter, Nevada Magazine’s Events and Shows publication, a listing called What’s New in Nevada and an introduction to the new Web site, NV.Mobi, which makes travel information accessible by mobile phones and devices, a consumer newsletter and special spring travel packages. They also will hand out the Visitor Guide and fliers with information about special events and attractions. 

The team will also visit six different tribes to exchange ideas and generate interest in attending American Indian events in Nevada throughout the year and meet with a Japanese credit card company in Los Angeles to promote special Nevada travel deals for the company’s cardholders. 

Nevada’s attractions and deals with tour operators and motorcoach companies will be promoted in Salt Lake City, a strong market for travel to Elko County and other points in eastern and southern Nevada including Las Vegas. 

“Tourism is a highly competitive industry, and we need to be aggressive and never let up in our sales and marketing efforts,” Krolicki said. “Nevada is a destination that allows consumers to maximize the value of their dollars, and we must do all we can to boost awareness, attract more business and maintain our place as a leading destination.” 

The sales blitz is NCOT’s second since December 2008, when economic challenges were escalating and the commission stepped up its already vigorous sales efforts. 

National Travel and Tourism Week on May 9-17 is an annual observance by the U.S. Travel Association in Washington, D.C., that focuses on the industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy, which is worth more than $700 billion.

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