Spooner developer won't get more state money for interchange

The state Transportation Board refused Thursday to give developers of Southwest Pointe on the Spooner Summit highway $2.1 million to help build an interchange.

They need the interchange for the housing project on some 1,600 acres of land above Clear Creek on the south side of the highway. Nevada Department of Transportation officials agreed at their last meeting to put in $800,000 for the interchange that will provide access to the project.

Former transportation board director Garth Dull, now a spokesman for Southwest Pointe Partners, came back to the board Thursday seeking more money. But board Director Tom Stephens recommended against increasing state funding.

"We think this is a developer-driven project," he said. "It benefits the developer."

He said the $800,000 approved by the board earlier this year was the amount the state would have put into moving a runaway truck ramp at the site. Moving that ramp would be unnecessary if the interchange is built.

Stephens said, however, no construction has started because developers have not gotten other approvals from Carson City and Douglas County for their project. Dull said they have been unable to get financing.

But Dull argued the transportation department's plans for the intersection aren't safe and could result in fatalities like the one two years ago when a truck went out of control. He said the state would benefit by paying half the cost of the $4 million interchange.

"The benefits to the developer are obvious, but the state is going to benefit as well," he said.

Gov. Kenny Guinn, transportation board chairman, said if safety is the issue, the state agency should put the money into widening and fixing Highway 50A between Fernley and Fallon, where there have been more than a dozen serious accidents in the past year.

He said the board already has reviewed the request and was generous in granting the $800,000. Guinn said he opposed giving any more for a project he sees as mostly benefiting a private developer.

The rest of the board agreed and unanimously rejected the request.

They did the same with the next item as well: a request for between $5 million and $11 million to build a new interchange on Interstate 80 at Fernley. The request was supported by Lyon County officials as well as the developer.

Stephens told the board that interchange would serve the Nevada Pacific Industrial Park.

"We see no reason to construct in 2004 an interchange that is essentially a developer interchange," he said. "We don't see this as a state responsibility."

Guinn again agreed and asked where Lyon County's funding was. County Manager Steve Snyder said it was among their top priorities, but the county has not put money into the project.

The board voted to consider the issue again if the county and developers can get $5 million or so in federal funding they are seeking through Nevada's congressional delegation.


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