Push for congressional designation

LAS VEGAS - It might seem a natural, considering the fact some 33.8 million tourists travel it annually, agog over 15,000 miles of neon tubing.

Now Nevada tourism officials are pushing for designation of the Las Vegas Strip as an All-American road, with Congress expected to make the decree this summer.

In a ceremony kicking off National Tourism Week in Nevada, Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt Monday dedicated a marker near the Strip's ''Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas'' sign proclaiming the Strip to be a scenic byway.

The Strip is expected to formally receive the designation by Congress later this summer. It will be the only neon-lit road to gain such a designation.

''If we receive the federal designation, the Las Veas Strip will be known as an All-American road, a designation unto itself,'' Hunt said.

''It is quite possibly the most impressive collection of bright lights and scenic variety in the world,'' she said of the Strip, which evolved from a single hotel in 1931 to a string of glitzy megaresorts today.

Though the Strip is only three miles long, there are more than 15,000 miles of neon tubing on the casinos dotting the landscape. The 33.8 million visitors who traveled the Strip in 1999 generated an economic impact of $28.6 billion. More than 25 percent of Clark County residents are employed in the tourism industry.

In 1996, the Strip, which officially runs from Russell Road to Sahara Avenue, was declared a state scenic byway by the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

The Strip, formally known as Las Vegas Boulevard, gained its nickname when Guy McAfee, a Los Angeles police captain, claimed it looked like the Sunset Strip.

The road has had several names, beginning as the Arrowhead Highway and later as the Los Angeles or L.A. Highway when it was a two-lane major link between the budding gambling capital and Southern California.


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