The winding right-of-way of the Virginia & Truckee Railway foretells many challenging aspects, such as steep slopes, possible battles with eminent domain and historic preservation of the original V&T retaining walls.
And all of these minutia will now be under the authority of Carson City's Capital Engineering and its many subcontractors. The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway chose Capital Engineering on Monday evening to lead the engineering for the infrastructure design and right-of-way for the reconstruction of the tourist line from American Flat to Deer Run Road in Carson City.
Commission Vice Chairman Bob Hadfield said Capital Engineering assembled an impressive team to complete the engineering services for the last phases of the V&T.
"Capital Engineering has been involved and been engineers with the project since its inception," he said.
Ken Dorr, Capital principal engineer, said he was a little disappointed to see that his bid was the only one submitted to the commission.
"We felt we had the best team, which is probably why no one else submitted a bid," he said.
His team includes Carter Burgess, Lumos & Associates, architect John Copoulos, all of Carson City; Geocon Consultants of Minden; and Piedmont Surveying of Silver City.
According to state law, a public entity must select engineers based on qualifications, not the amount of the bid. So the next step for Capital is to negotiate the cost of the work with the commission. Dorr said he doesn't have an estimate on the work, but expects to have it completed by the commission's June meeting. He also said the engineering and design reports will probably be done in phases.
The $30 million project has three phases. Phase one, which is under construction, goes from Gold Hill across the Overman Pit to American Flat, which is 1.4 miles. The second leg is from American Flat to Highway 50 at the Carson/Lyon county line, 9.3 miles. Phase three is the Carson River loop, which is 3.7 miles, and the Carson River extension, 2.6 miles, which extends to Deer Run Road.
"Reopening Tunnel 2 in Lyon County - the engineering for that and the construction - will be challenging," Dorr said. "Because we don't know what we have to work with. Both ends are dynamited shut."
When the train reaches the Lyon County and Carson City line, a bridge last used in Las Vegas will be installed to span the tracks across Highway 50. Dorr said it will be challenging to adapt a 1960s-era bridge to current railway and highway geometry.
In phase three, the steep slope coming through the Carson River Canyon will also be challenging for engineers and construction workers. Dorr said the existing railroad grade has to be widened, and a number of retaining walls used for the historic V&T will have to be replaced or reused, depending on their condition and approvals from the state Historic Preservation Office.
Dorr said these final construction documents will allow the commission to bid out all the phases of the project then construct a railway to make Carson City, Lyon and Storey counties proud.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.