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You Paid For It mailbag: Dressing up the 215 Beltway

You Paid For It mailbag: Dressing up the 215 Beltway

CREATED Mar 17, 2011

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) – The landscaping you paid for along portions of the 215 Beltway has generated a lot of chatter from our viewers. Is this the right way to spend your tax dollars?

Chief Investigator Darcy Spears first broke the story. Now, viewers are sounding off.

Although it's not quite Stonehenge, there are plenty of large stones.

"New boulders," says Steve Barr.

Darcy Spears:  Expensive boulders.

"Apparently. Big boulders."

The boulders, rocks, and plants decorating the freeway onramps and offramps at Eastern and the 215 cost nearly $1 million of your tax dollars. Several viewers who wrote in after the original story aired say it's a $1 million accident waiting to happen.

Now that the gravel has been replaced with big boulders, Kelly writes, "In the event of an accident, if someone went off the road into the gravel, at least it would slow them down. Now you would run the risk of a head-on collision with a large boulder. Was the safety of this thought through?"

But other viewers are happy about the project. Katherine writes, "It is wonderful that they make the highways nice and also it makes me proud to call Las Vegas my home." 

There's no denying we need money and lots of it for other things here in Nevada. But officials say the money, which comes from your gas tax in this case, simply can't be spent for anything else.

Preston suggests a different type of expenditure, "I know of places that could use a street light.  Why is it so hard to get a street light in these places where people have been killed? Instead we are spending money on landscape on 215? Outrageous!"

"We're very aggressive at spending every dollar of federal money that we do get," explains Rudy Malfabon, Nevada Department of Transportation. "And it's got to be, unfortunately, for the purposes that the programs are set up for. In this case, for an enhancement program."

But viewer Bob points out, "If motorists' gas taxes pay for this, maybe those who use the road should benefit. I know a lot of folks would disagree with this, but clean scenery does create a positive impression."

"Aesthetic improvements are almost the last thing I'd think about spending money on right now," counters Steve Barr.

Viewer Natalie thinks the federal government should stop pigeon-holing these pots of money. She'd prefer to see it spent on schools and writes, "I think Nevada needs to dazzle us with a higher graduation rate rather than dazzle us with rocks."

But it's important to consider another point made by Bob, "After 40 years in teaching, my wife and I know that if you took every penny from community improvement projects like landscaping or graffiti cleanup and gave it all to the schools, the schools would still be clamoring for more money."

And Myscie notes, "We may have paid for it, but we certainly didn't agree to how our money was being spent!"

So what's your message to officials spending our money?

"Do a better job," says Steve Barr. "Listen to the people whose money you're spending."

If you see something in your community that has left you wondering whether you paid for it and how much it cost, send an email to 13Investigates@KTNV.com.