Two years before construction is expected to commence, preliminary drilling began Thursday for the Virginia and Truckee Railway bridge over Highway 50 East.
"It's a long way away, but you have to start early on a project like this," said Gary Luce, senior engineer with Geo Con Consultants Inc.
The company is overseeing the drilling of seven holes at the proposed bridge site on the boundary between Carson City and Lyon County. The seven holes, including one scheduled to be drilled in the center lane of the highway today, will help finalize the design and cost of the bridge.
"This is our preliminary scouting to help us get our cost estimates and get enough information to do the designs. Often we use the data to create alternatives and then we do a cost analysis to decide which option to use," said Luce.
Project Manager Ken Dorr said the 25- to 30-foot holes help determine the stability of the soil for the abutments and footings used for the bridge's foundation.
The bridge is part of phase 2 of the V&T Railway project, a 9.3-mile stretch that runs from end of phase 1 at American Flat, through tunnel two and over Highway 50 into Carson City.
As part of the scouting, crews are expected to be drilling in the center lane of Highway 50 today and will be utilizing a traffic control company during that time, but Dorr said he expects the effect on motorists to be minimal.
When finished, the railway will run from Virginia City to Carson City and is expected to be completed in 2008-2009 at a total estimated construction cost of $34.2 million. The section from Storey County to Gold Hill and over the Overman Pit has been completed.
According to Dorr, phase 2 will be broken into at least two sections to allow the project to move forward more quickly. Construction on the first section of phase 2 could begin as early as next year and reach the bridge site in 2007.
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