Traffic, tourism expected to be down slightly this New Year’s weekend

Tom Donoghue /

New Year’s Eve fireworks, as seen from atop Trump Tower, explode over the Las Vegas Strip just after midnight Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.

2015 NYE Fireworks in Las Vegas

New Year's Eve fireworks, as seen from atop Trump Tower, explode over the Las Vegas Strip just after midnight Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. Launch slideshow »

New Year's Eve Prep 2016

Metro Police officers stage along Las Vegas Boulevard as part of New Year's Eve preparations on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. Launch slideshow »

New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas will be slightly slower this year, according to travel and tourism agencies.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is predicting 1.2 percent fewer visitors will come to Southern Nevada for the big night — 330,000 visitors this year, compared to 334,000 in 2016.

As a result, hotel occupancy will also be down slightly. Last year, 98.4 percent of 149,339 rooms available were sold. This year, the LVCVA expects 97.5 percent of 148,586 rooms will be occupied. There are fewer rooms this year because many resorts are remodeling.

The anticipated downtick may be attributed to several reasons, a spokeswoman for the LVCVA said. First, the reduced room inventory could be driving up room rates, making New Year’s Eve in Vegas too expensive for some people this year. Also, New Year’s Eve fell on a Saturday last year. This year it’s on a Sunday, necessitating many out-of-town visitors to sacrifice a workday to travel home, which some may not be willing to do.

The convention authority's research team does not have enough information yet to know how much effect, if any, the Oct. 1 many shooting had on its projections, the spokeswoman said.

McCarran International Airport is also expected to be a bit slower compared to last year. There will be 1 percent fewer people — approximately 611,000 passengers — going through the terminals from Friday through Tuesday compared to a similar period last year.

A McCarran spokeswoman noted that the city’s largest convention, the Consumer Electronics Show, started the week of New Year’s last year, driving up the numbers slightly. This time around, CES starts on the first weekend after New Year’s Eve.

Much of the Strip will be closed to vehicle traffic on New Year’s Eve. The Nevada Department of Transportation said south and northbound Interstate 15 on- and off-ramps will be closed at Spring Mountain Road, Flamingo Road and Tropicana Avenue starting at 5 p.m. Ramps at Sahara Avenue and Russell Road will remain open.

Northbound Las Vegas Boulevard will be blocked at Mandalay Bay and southbound at Sahara Avenue. Westbound Tropicana Avenue will be closed at Koval Lane and eastbound at Industrial Road/Dean Martin Drive. Also, eastbound Flamingo Road will be blocked at Valley View Boulevard.

The restrictions should be lifted sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., NDOT officials say.

Delays on highways out of Nevada on New Year’s Day often depend on which day of the week the holiday falls.

New Year’s Day last year was on Sunday, making Monday, Jan. 2, a holiday. So Monday saw the highest daily volume for I-15 southbound traffic at Primm (approximately 48,000), and there were long delays beginning at 8 a.m. and lasting until 8:30 p.m.

New Year’s Day this year is Monday, so the Regional Transportation Commission anticipates most motorists will leave Las Vegas then, and probably not until late morning or early afternoon. RTC traffic management doesn’t expect delays to be as long as they were a year ago.

The RTC is providing free rides on all regular bus routes, even on the express service between park-and-ride facilities and downtown Las Vegas, from 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to 9 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Express bus service from the Centennial Hills and Westcliff park-and-ride facilities to downtown will be available every 20 minutes from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The RTC asks people to plan trips using the rideRTC transit app or the RTC website. Buses will run according to Sunday schedules on New Year’s Day.