Many people call it the road to nowhere. It’s the intersection of West Pioneer Blvd and Lower Flat Top Drive that now sits among acres of empty dirt near the base of Flat Top Mesa. It’s also home to the future I-15 Exit 118 interchange which will serve as the primary freeway access for industrial and residential developments in the area.
When Exit 120 was reconstructed in 2012 and created the roundabouts, it also created a severe impediment to semi-tractor trailer trucks maneuvering through the tight circles. It did not enhance the attractiveness of businesses relocating to the Mesquite Technical Commerce Center (MTCC) located on the west side of Mesquite.
Direct access from I-15 at the new interchange now slated for completion in June 2016 potentially changes the whole make-up of the area and could lead to a sizable jump in economic development for Mesquite. Translate that to increased tax receipts and new jobs for the local area.
It will also relieve Exit 120 of much of its truck traffic that now must use the roundabouts to access the industrial area like the Do-It-Best warehouse facility. The new exit promises to make the MTCC much more attractive for businesses to build in the industrial area because of the direct line off the interstate. It would also be a prime spot for a truck stop or other amenities that many people in the community do not want at Exits 122 or 120.
“Mesquite Regional Business, Inc., has had a vigorous increase in new business inquiries mainly due to the construction of a new I-15 interchange that will streamline traffic into and out of the MTCC,” George Gault, interim CEO for MRBI told the Mesquite Local News.
“With the new interchange, coupled with the very positive Boyd report on Mesquite’s attractiveness as a distribution warehousing location, we can now expand our marketing efforts even more. We’ve already had discussions with six potential new businesses for land around Exit 118,” Gault added.
The City has also experienced an uptick in new business inquiries now that Exit 118 is moving forward. “Plus, we’ve had increased interest in businesses purchasing City-owned property in that area which bodes very well for our future tax receipts,” Aaron Baker, City of Mesquite Economic Development Officer said.
A main concern to local businesses, especially Mesquite Gaming who owns the CasaBlanca and Virgin River Casino Hotels is another traffic disruption on the I-15 corridor during the construction of the interchange that will feature a new bridge over the existing roadway.
“We’ve suffered through a lot of road closures and problems over the last couple years and I don’t want to go through that again,” Anthony Toti, Mesquite Gaming CEO told the MLN. “However, City officials, primarily Aaron Baker have worked with us and the contractor to assure we will have very minimal problems.”
Baker said that provisions are included in the construction contract that prevent any lane closures during peak visitation periods for local casinos. “The contractor is limited to a maximum 15 minute traffic back-up. If that happens, they must clear the back-up within one hour or face hefty fines levied by the hour.”
It seems other missing pieces of the puzzle that created the perception of a ‘dead zone’ in the MTCC appear to be falling into place.
The City of Mesquite is streamlining the processes it uses to sell city-owned land in the area. Taxpayers realize zero income from publicly-owned property. Not only will city coffers fill immediately from the sale of hundreds of acres of raw, empty land but future streams of income from a variety of fees and taxes will help alleviate tight budgets Mesquite has experienced since the Great Recession started in 2008.
Recent efforts to bring natural gas to the MTCC will also improve prospects for increased activity in the area. Several potential new businesses looking to move to Mesquite turned down the opportunity due directly to the lack of natural gas. The costs of using electricity in place of gas was exhorbitant and prohibitive to many of the businesses.
It will probably be several more years before natural gas actually comes to the area but we’re closer now than we’ve ever been before. MRBI and City officials worked with Southwest Gas, the City’s lobbyist Warren Hardy, and the Legislature to push through changes in state statutes that make the dream closer to reality. Before that, the only action taken was to complain about the problem.
It won’t be an overnight success. It may still be years before enough robust business activity in the MTCC causes complaints about crowded roads and too many people.
But it’s one more mile on the road to the future for Mesquite.