Workers have started construction on the next phase of an 18-mile tourist railroad to run from Virginia City to Carson City.
This section of the reconstructed Virginia & Truckee Railway will run 4.5 miles from American Flat in Storey County south to Mound House in Lyon County. Granite Construction is laying the track under a $5.2 million contract. It is expected to be done by June.
Work started Monday on the new phase and a groundbreaking ceremony will be Friday.
About a mile and a half of track from Gold Hill to the Overman Pit was finished in 2005.
The new construction, said Mayor Marv Teixeira, is important because it will help keep up the momentum of the project.
"It shows progress and that's what people are looking for," said Teixeira, also a member of the state commission in charge of the project.
"'Are they moving?' The answer is, you're damn right," he said. "'Is this thing going to be a reality?' Yes."
Some people will never believe the project will happen, said Dwight Millard, another member of the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, but this construction marks real progress.
"It puts credibility to the fact that it's going to happen," he said. "If there's any doubts in anyone's mind, this should erase their doubts."
John O'Day, project manager of the construction, said a lot of work at first will be moving stones and dealing with drainage. Granite was also the contractor for the first phase of the project.
There have been a lot of "false starts" with the project, said John Tyson, another commission member, but now it's actually happening.
"We can sit here and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk," he said, "and as the old saying goes, talk is cheap."
The commission, which met Monday, has also moved closer to buying the private Virginia & Truckee Railroad Co. that runs a train two miles from Virginia City south to Gold Hill. Members voted to appraise the business itself and its intellectual property. Commission Attorney Mike Rowe said they should be able to get results by June.
Commission members have agreed that they need the railroad for a train to run from Carson City to Virginia City. The business had a contract with the commission to be the operator of state railroad until last month.
Members said the next phase of track, which will cross over Highway 50 on a bridge by Mound House, should have all the right-of-way property needed by January and advertise for construction contracts by June.
Construction on the project started in 2004 and is expected to cost $54 million and be finished by 2011. About $40 million has been raised so far, including $21 million from Carson City. Grants, private donations and revenue from room and sales taxes in Carson City and Storey County fund the 19th-century revival railway.
Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.