Primm may be known as the first stop in Nevada for drivers coming from California on I-15 for casinos, dining, and shopping, but it's also gaining a less desirable reputation.
The Primm area has become known for hellacious traffic jams for travelers on southbound I-15 coming back to California after a weekend or holiday in Vegas.
These backups can extend from Jean to Primm, up to Mountain Pass, California, and beyond on I-15.
In the Primm area, we aren't just talking about ½ hr traffic backups due to accidents. We're talking about 10+ mile backups where traffic is at a crawl for much of the day on weekends and holidays.
The simple cause of this is too many cars and not enough lanes on the freeway. South of Primm, I-15 is only two lanes in each direction, which is woefully inadequate.
Further complicating the matter is that on the California side, there is an agricultural inspection station.
After that, there is a ten-mile graded stretch leading up to Mountain Pass that climbs over 2,000 feet in elevation. This makes for slow going for trucks, trailers, and motorhomes.
These traffic jams can provide a benefit for Primm as drivers looking to escape the crawling pace may take the Primm exit to spend time hitting the slots at Primm Valley Resort or Whiskey Pete's.
Visitors can also grab a bite to eat, get a Starbucks, or otherwise pass the time hoping the traffic will clear out.
Other activities in Primm include shopping at the Prizm Outlets, fueling up or charging your electric vehicle, buying lottery tickets at the Primm Lotto store, or playing a round of golf at Primm Valley Golf.
The Nevada Department of Transportation is finally taking action to help alleviate the traffic problems, at least on the Nevada side. Starting in May 2021, they will be doing a 16-mile repaving project on I-15.
The project extends from the California border in Primm to a few miles north of Jean.
In addition to visitors from Southern California, this busy stretch of I-15 also is the main route to Southern Nevada, Utah, on up to Idaho and Montana, making it a popular trucking route.
Heavy truck travel accounts for about ten percent of total traffic.
In addition to asphalt repaving, the road construction project also includes two added miles of guardrail, frontage road upgrades, new signage, desert tortoise fencing repair, and Intelligent Transportation Systems improvements.
While this $11 million repaving project should help traffic flows in the long term, it will mean more pain in the short term.
This project, combined with reopening following lockdowns due to the health situation, means traffic will likely get worse before it gets better.
South of Primm on I-15 with light traffic
About ten million people travel each year from California to Las Vegas in vehicles.
To help ease traffic congestion, in December 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsome announced his state would spend $12 million on a road construction project south of Primm.
The project would be for repaving, restriping, and adding a third lane on I-15 for use during peak travel times.
According to Nevada Department of Transportation data, in November 2021 there were an average of 51,814 vehicles per day entering Nevada on I-15 northbound, up 11.3 percent from October 2021.
This was up 23.2 percent year-over-year from November 2021. Vehicular traffic was up 17.2 percent overall in the two-year period from November 2019 to November 2021.
For a view of traffic on I-15, check out our Primm webcams.