Nevada 171 is the McCarran/Las Vegas International Airport Connector, a short freeway from Interstate 215 north under the airport in a tunnel to connect with Paradise and Tropicana Roads on the north side. It has one exit to Sunset Road. Nevada 171 is not signed in any fashion, even though it is a couple of miles long (including the tunnel under the runways). The freeway and tunnel were completed and opened to traffic in 1994.
Nevada 171/Airport Connector north
A two-lane exit connects westbound Interstate 215/Bruce Woodbury Las Vegas Beltway to northbound Nevada 171. Merging traffic from the eastbound Interstate 215 ramp to Nevada 171 north can be seen ahead. Photo taken 04/02/06.
The only standalone interchange along Nevada 171 is Exit 1, Junction Nevada 562/Sunset Road. Nevada 562 follows Sunset Road west to the Las Vegas Strip (Nevada 604/Las Vegas Boulevard) and east to Interstate 515 and Nevada 582/Boulder Highway. Not all of the corridor is state maintained. Photo taken 04/02/06.
Northbound Nevada 171/Airport Connector reaches Exit 1, Junction Nevada 562/Sunset Road. The left three lanes continue north to provide access to McCarran International Airport. Photo taken 04/02/06.
As the ramp to Nevada 562/Sunset Road departs the freeway, maintenance of the Airport Connector shifts from the Nevada Department of Transportation to McCarran International Airport. It is possible to travel through the airport property to connect with Nevada 593/Tropicana Avenue on the north side of the airport. The left lanes of Nevada 171 connect to the airport, while the right lane provides the "airport bypass" to Swenson Street and Tropicana Avenue. After these signs, Nevada 171 enters a tunnel under the airport runway. Photo taken 04/02/06.
The McCarran Airport Tunnel is 2,740 feet long and consists of three tubes. The outer tubes serve the northbound and southbound lanes of Nevada 171 (three in each direction). This tunnel was constructed in 1993 and open to traffic in 1994 as part of the original Interstate 215 project, which provided southerly access from Interstate 15 to the airport via today's Interstate 215 and Nevada 171. The effect of leaving bright daylight and entering a dark tunnel was considered by engineers who designed the tunnel. "Mounting height for all luminaries is 18 feet. The longitudinal spacing of the fixtures varies from eight feet at the tunnel entrance (threshold zone), to 24 feet in the transition zones, and 48 feet in the interior zone."1 Photo taken 04/02/06.
At the end of the airport tunnel, the left two lanes connect to McCarran International Airport. The right two lanes continue north toward Swenson Street and Russell Road. Photo taken 04/02/06.
Immediately thereafter, northbound Airport Connector meets Russell Road at this offramp. From this ramp, Russell Road travels east into the unincorporated community of Paradise. This section of Russell does not directly connect to Interstate 15 or the Las Vegas Strip. Continue north on Interstate 15 to make that connection. Photo taken 04/02/06.
The ramp from Nevada 171 north to the airport briefly swings over the mainline northbound Airport Connector freeway. The southbound lanes come into view for the first since leaving the tunnel. Photo taken 04/02/06.
Entertainment billboards greet visitors to Las Vegas as they emerge from McCarran International Airport. A wide variety of onramps merge onto the Airport Connector, which will soon shift directly onto northbound Swenson Street. Photo taken 04/02/06.
A second ramp to return to the airport is posted after several connecting ramps merge with the Airport Connector. Photo taken 04/02/06.
More airport traffic merges onto the Airport Connector, which shifts onto Swenson Street northbound at this point. Photo taken 04/02/06.
Swenson Street north
Swenson Street carries outbound airport traffic on four one-way northbound lanes. Photo taken 04/02/06.
Northbound Swenson Street soon has six lanes as it passes by homes located on the east side of the street. Photo taken 04/02/06.
A set of beacons are positioned on this overhead sign bridge. Photo taken 04/02/06.
Northbound Swenson Street approaches Tropicana Avenue (Nevada 593). The left three lanes connect to Nevada 593/Tropicana Avenue west to the Las Vegas Strip. The right three lanes continue north on Swenson Street to Paradise Road north. The right lane also connects to Nevada 593/Tropicana Avenue east. Photo taken 04/02/06.
This traffic signal governs the flow of traffic from Swenson Street to Tropicana Avenue. Photo taken 04/02/06.
After the Tropicana Avenue intersection, stay left for the connection to Paradise Road north to downtown Las Vegas (former Nevada 605). Photo taken 04/02/06.
The connection from Swenson Street to Paradise Road is via Naples Drive. Photo taken 04/02/06.