Public/private partnerships drove the creation and completion of Laughlin Ranch Boulevard, which was opened to the community after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
“What a great day,” said David Lords, Laughlin Ranch developer. “It’s come full circle and it’s been so exciting.”
City officials hosted the standing-room only opening ceremony, live broadcast on social media and closely watched by reception attendees hosted by the project’s major contractors, McCormick Construction and Pat Burright Construction, at the banquet room at Laughlin Ranch Golf Club.
“It’s a really special day for the city,” Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter told the Daily News. “There’s not many new public roads being built in America right now — that the terminus of the new road is the beaches on the Colorado River is a special thing for Bullhead City.”
Mayor Tom Brady said the extension of Laughlin Ranch Boulevard from the Bullhead Parkway to the west side of Highway 95 is a milestone in the city’s history
“I think this is a very important milestone,” Brady said. “This is going to be a very important roadway that helps move traffic better through our town and I’m very proud that it’s happening on my watch.”
After opening remarks from city staff and Lords, local dignitaries climbed into 27 Corvettes provided and driven by members of the Colorado River Corvette Club to drive the new roadway and hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its midway point.
“We’re very excited about the new road and the coming new bridge as well,” said Greg Attl, CRCC president. “I live right down the street and it’s going to be great.”
Don Laughlin, his grandson Matt Laughlin, and Lords drove the new road in a 1931 Model A Ford.
“(The Model A) is the same age as me, but it’s in much better condition,” said Don Laughlin. “The new road is going to ease a lot of traffic for sure. I’ve been watching that area thinking there should be a road there for the last 53 years, so today is a day of big reward — it’s a great thing.”
Lords envisioned the 1½-mile roadway extension in 2005 after purchasing the land from Don Laughlin.
“Even back then, he visualized this also as an area of development to complement the airport,” Lords said. “And here we are so many years later and that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
The $4.5 million roadway is the result of a public-private partnership between developers and the city. Three developers — Laurin Hendrix, Lansing Companies from California and Solid State Parkway from Amsterdam — came together and paid for 75 percent of the road, Lords said. The city wanted to include a connection of the road to reach the new beaches at Section 12 south of Bullhead Community Park and paid about $1 million.
“Those developers, those owners, those are the people that paid the money,” Lords said. “They don’t get much credit, but if it wasn’t for them saying they’d sign with the city, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Lords said aside from the reduction in traffic congestion on the highway and the convenience of another east/west route, the real payoff for the community is the long-term commercial development potential along Laughlin Ranch Boulevard and at its intersection with Bullhead Parkway.
“We opened up over 200 acres of land for development for employment, industrial, office,” Lords said. “There is no residential component. When you have the intersection of the Parkway and Laughlin Ranch Boulevard with that many cars — right now I think the count is 13,000-13,300 per day and that’s going to go up — the 20 acres right on the front of the Parkway is prime retail/commercial for servicing that whole east bench.”
The roadway extension also will reduce response times for emergency vehicles, said Bullhead City Fire Chief Patrick Moore.
“Anytime we can reduce our response times is always a win for us,” Moore told the Daily News. “We don’t know yet specifically how many calls it’s going to impact us annually. Our goal is always to get to any emergency as quick as we can and we get to 90 percent of them within the first five minutes. This will definitely help ensure that we stay in that 90 percent number, so we’re excited about it.”
Cotter said the partnerships made the roadway possible.
“It’s very special, it’s very important,” Cotter said. “Our citizens are going to have a brand new road to use this afternoon and then forever. The project is building infrastructure that a growing community must do to keep up — not only for our transportation and lifesaving options that are there, it’s also bringing up some great land for economic development for the future.”