EXPRESS Monorail will connect Vegas hotels with convention center. (Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Monorail Inc.)

The Las Vegas Strip’s newest attraction isn’t an exploding volcano or a Cirque du Soleil show, but a futuristic-looking 50-m.p.h. monorail that will begin revenue service on Jan. 20. A design-build contract for an extension already has been awarded.

The new $650-million, 3.8-mile, elevated dual-lane fixed guideway can carry up to 8,000 riders per hour between the convention center and eight hotels. It utilizes nine four-car trains traveling between seven stations.

The design-build team of Granite Construction Co., Watsonville, Calif.; Carter & Burgess Inc., Fort Worth, Texas; Gensler, San Francisco; and Bombardier Transit Corp., Kingston, Ontario, is on schedule to complete its $343-million, fixed-price 40-month contract. There is a profit-sharing clause for the number of early completed days and late completion penalties of 1.2 times expected revenue.


Now, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is moving forward on a $454-million extension, hiring local developer Transit Systems Development LLC for $394 million. On Oct. 28, TSD awarded a $336.6-million design-build contract to the Granite-led team, scheduled to break ground in June.

The project will be financed through bonds, federal funds and a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan. Bombardier also has a separate five-year, $87-million operate-maintain contract. ParsonsTransportation Group, Pasadena, Calif., will replace Carter & Burgess as the team’s engineer. "Carter & Burgess has a great working relationship with Granite," says Kevin P. Nelson, C&B’s transportation division manager. "We are currently seeking contracts together in other markets."

The state had issued tax-free non-recourse bonds for Las Vegas Monorail Co., a nonprofit corporation, to underwrite project costs. Advertising revenue and ridership fees are expected to retire the debt. "The cooperation between the public and private sectors in Las Vegas is an extremely innovative business model," says J.F. Finn, a Gensler senior associate. "We will see more of this type of partnership for large-scale projects."

The 2.3-mile extension, north from the Sahara hotel to downtown’s Fremont Street Experience, will include five more trains, a maintenance building and four two-story stations, each 248 x 50 ft. Crews will pour 250 concrete columns, 18 ft tall and 2.8 x 4.8 ft, set atop drilled caissons. The job also entails production and erection of 270 precast 26-in.-wide guideway segments, each up to 120 ft long and 120,000 lb, says David J. Malutich, Granite’s area manager. The 37-month project is to finish in 2007.