One of the biggest obstacles to extending the V&T Railroad from Gold Hill to Carson City may soon be overcome.
Mined in the 1950s, the Overman Pit, the largest and most expensive obstacle in the path of the reconstruction project, could be partially filled in to allow the railroad's extension.
Dennis Coyle, design engineer with the Nevada Department of Transportation, called the pit a geotechnical nightmare coming to a close Wednesday night at the Tricounty Railway Commission meeting.
Engineers and designers at the Department of Transportation have determined that the narrow finger of the pit that accomodates the access is 90-feet deep at the point where it will be filled. According to Coyle the dirt, trucked from a nearby waste pile, will be reinforced by layering it with cloth. The bed will extend about 30 to 40 feet above the natural ground level.
"Fill is the most expensive part of the project," Coyle said, noting that it is about 60 percent completed and bids could be sought by the state as early as October 2001.
"Once construction over the pit starts, the project will be more tangible and attract funding," Norman Williams of the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation said, noting that in many cases grant money for reconstruction will not be available until a route across the pit is secured.
The crossing is expected to cost $5.4 million. Part of that money, $2.2 million, was obtained through a federal grant from the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
"We applied for that money to do the design work," Tricounty Railway Commission chairwoman Janice Ayres said.
The Nevada Department of Transportation controls the money, but it has been used to engineer the earth bridge across the pit.
The $24.4 million project is expected to take two years to complete, including real estate purchases, construction, and purchasing and restoring equipment. That may sound steep, but the projected economic benefits should easily out-strip the price tag.
Ridership survey results indicate that the majority of passengers would extend their stay in the area, and the additional spending will generate $7.1 million. That, together with revenues from construction and employment, is expected to pump $16.5 million into the economy annually.