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2-mile stretch of southbound I-11 to open by the end of July

Motorists headed from the Las Vegas Valley to Hoover Dam will get to zoom along roughly 2 miles of the new Interstate 11 by the end of this month.

Opening up the small, southbound segment marks a big step toward completing the first leg of an international trade route that is expected to eventually ease cross-border trade from the Mexico border to Canada by running through Arizona, Nevada and Idaho.

Although a specific day isn’t determined yet, drivers headed south on U.S. Highway 93 will be directed onto the freshly laid concrete lanes of southbound I-11 near Railroad Pass Casino in Henderson, said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

From there, vehicles will get to use a new 600-foot-long flyover bridge that connects I-11 with the overlapping U.S. Highways 93 and 95.

Unfortunately, there’s a catch for southbound drivers wanting to access the Railroad Pass Casino: You’ll have to pass your destination, and turn around about a mile away at the interchange where the U.S. 93 and U.S. 95 split, Illia said. Drivers headed north on U.S. 93 won’t get to use I-11, but traffic lanes will be slightly shifted so that crews can complete the freeway.

Construction of a 15-mile stretch of I-11 started in April 2015, with work split between the NDOT and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

NDOT’s segment of I-11, running between Silverline Road and Foothill Drive in Henderson, is scheduled to open by the end of December. The RTC’s asphalt-covered section, spanning 12.5 miles headed to the Colorado River, will open in June 2018.

When completed, the four-lane highway is expected to reduce travel time up to 30 minutes between Henderson’s southern border and the O’Callaghan-Tillman Bridge downstream from Hoover Dam, all while looping past Boulder City.

Last week, Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, D-Las Vegas, said that sections of U.S. 95 will eventually have a dual designation with Interstate 11.

“It will provide a direct link between Southern and Northern Nevada, reduce miles traveled and it will be used by freight carriers,” Carrillo, who serves as chairman of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee, said during a dedication ceremony for the Centennial Bowl freeway interchange in northwest Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, a $5.3 million traffic study analyzing all of the valley’s major freeway corridors — including the next segment of I-11 — is expected to be completed by spring 2018.