With convention center expansion halfway done, people-mover project set to start

Miranda Alam/Special to the Sun

Construction continues on the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019.

With the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion project about halfway complete, The Boring Company is readying to begin tunnel-digging work that will eventually lead to a people-mover system under the center’s massive campus.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority officials said the Elon Musk company has already begun work on the tunneling project.

“A hole has been dug behind the (convention center’s) South Hall and we’re waiting for permits from the county to begin tunneling,” said authority spokeswoman Lori Nelson-Kraft. “The boring machine has arrived on site and will be assembled and lowered into the pit. We hope to begin tunneling efforts in the next month.”

Las Vegas Convention Center Construction Update Tour

Terry Miller of Cordell Corporation, LLC speaks to media during a tour of the construction site where the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center is underway in Las Vegas on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. Launch slideshow »

Nelson-Kraft said the plan is for the $52.5 million people-mover project to be finished around the same time the expansion wraps, which is expected to be in time for CES in January 2021.

The location of the under-construction convention complex is the site of the old Riviera, which the authority purchased and razed.

Once the expansion — which will include a 600,000-square-foot exhibition hall — is complete, focus will turn to a “rolling” renovation of the convention center’s existing 3.2 million-square-foot space, at Desert Inn and Paradise roads.

All told, the improvements to the convention center campus — which will be a massive 200-plus-acre area — are expected to cost more than $1.5 billion.

“Our (convention) customers have been giving us feedback and have been an active part of this process,” Nelson-Kraft said. “We’ve been taking into consideration what their needs are. More importantly, though, the extra 1.4 million square feet we’re adding will help (Las Vegas) grow as a convention destination.”

As media members were led around the shell of what will be the new exhibition area — called West Hall — more than 80 separate meeting rooms, and a rooftop outdoor terrace with space to accommodate 2,000, dozens of rows of raw materials lined the site.

The exhibition hall space alone, which will be able to be broken up into sections for event use, is big enough to fit more than 10 football fields.

The terrace will offer views of the Strip looking to the south.

From the roof of West Hall on Thursday, the scope of some of the nearby Strip multimillion-dollar projects could easily be seen with the MSG Sphere construction site to the south and the Resorts World project across Las Vegas Boulevard to the west.

According to authority officials, more than 900 workers — most of them Nevadans, according to officials — are at the site daily, working two separate shifts.

When work ramps up to its peak, that number will increase to about 1,200.

To date, more than 26,300 tons of structural steel has been erected at the expansion site. More than 49,000 cubic yards of concrete, according to officials, have been placed.

As of Thursday, construction of the expansion project, which is a joint effort between Turner Construction and Martin-Harris Construction, was estimated to be 53% complete.