Nevada votes to support Vegas-area airports

 - July 25, 2007, 4:34 AM

The Clark County Department of Aviation hopes to issue up to $400 million in bonds to help finance land purchases and construction at three existing southern Nevada airports and the proposed new international airport site in Ivanpah Valley. If approved, the money would be used for everything from future terminal and runway expansion, road and taxiway construction, noise mitigation and improved security. “The projects are so necessary because most of them are capacity related,” said deputy aviation director Rosemary Vassiliadis.

She said the financing plan and its related projects predate 9/11, but were placed on hold until airport traffic recovered. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) had a throughput of nearly 13.25 million passengers as of the end of April, placing it on pace to top its record 12-month total of 36.87 million set in 2000.
Vassiliadis said the funding’s most significant long-term effect would likely be the pending purchase of 6,500 acres of federally owned land in Ivanpah Valley near the California-Nevada border, about 40 miles west of Las Vegas. The land, located just east of Interstate 15, would cost approximately $20 million, she said. Southern Nevada’s second international airport could open as early as 2017.

Vassiliadis said other projects likely to be funded by the proposed bonds include McCarran’s Terminal 3 complex, as well as a pedestrian bridge there, and a control tower at Henderson Executive Airport, some 12 miles south of the Las Vegas strip.

The state’s aviation department hopes to raise the money through the sale of airport revenue bonds, to be repaid from passenger facility fees levied on travelers using LAS. Vassiliadis said McCarran now collects $3 from each passenger, though that fee will likely increase to $4.50 in October. McCarran, Henderson and North Las Vegas Airports currently produce enough combined revenue to repay the proposed new bonds and bond refunding.