Money committees close NDOT budgets with increases to speed bypass construction

Money to fill in the freeway between north Carson City's overpasses was approved by Senate and Assembly money committees on Thursday.

The Nevada Department of Transportation budget will get the extra bond money needed to move on to the next phase of the Carson bypass and other major highway projects, along with increases in funding for existing roadway projects.

Both the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees approved the increases in separate actions Thursday.

The committees approved Gov. Kenny Guinn's request to add $135 million in bonding authority in 2004 and $190 million in 2005.

That money will move ahead the next phase of the bypass through Carson City, widening of U.S. 95 in Las Vegas, widening of Interstate 15 from the California line to Las Vegas and construction of the I-215/I-15 interchange in Southern Nevada.

Altogether, the increases bring the total highway bonds during the coming biennium to $657.6 million.

Staff analysts said the only concern was that the department will have to pay back $84.2 million a year by fiscal 2007 -- a total of 12.6 percent of their total expenses -- to retire those bonds.

The committees also agreed to add $88.1 million in 2004 and $89.8 million in 2005 to NDOT's construction budgets. Most of that money is for maintenance, overlays and upgrades to existing roads.

It brings NDOT's construction budgets for the coming two years to $433.4 million and $489.2 million respectively.

To handle the increased workload -- which staff analysts say is more than double its current load -- lawmakers agreed to add 42 more staffers, bringing the total to 1,718. Of those, 18 will be located in Las Vegas, 17 in Carson City and seven in Reno.

Lawmakers approved two additions recommended by their own auditors: $1.1 million for a real-property management system and $1.5 million for a project-management system. They also approved $872,000 to upgrade NDOT's 800-megahertz radio system.

The decisions by both money committees finalizes NDOT's budget at $619.8 million in fiscal 2004 and $670.3 million in fiscal 2005.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment