Nine months after the contract was signed to finish the freeway from Mount Rose Highway to Washoe Valley, progress is finally visible to drivers on old U.S. 395.
Heavy equipment, including cranes, has appeared along the route in the past few weeks as Fisher Sand and Gravel, of Phoenix, has begun placing pilings at the north end of the project.
That portion of the freeway is considered a challenge by engineers because it runs through an active geothermal field with high underground temperatures that could damage normal concrete support structures.
Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said Fisher is working from the north southward on the 8.5-mile, six-lane freeway.
The project has a total of nine bridges including the 1,719-foot long, 300-foot high Galena Creek bridge in Pleasant Valley. That structure accounts for nearly $95 million of the total $393.4 million contract and has been the subject of significant controversy. The original bridge contractor, Edward Kraemer & Sons, was terminated after saying they didn't think it would be possible to safely erect the bridge because of wind conditions at the site.
The new bridge contractor, C.C. Myers of Sacramento, plans instead to fill in the Galena Creek valley with dirt to support the concrete arch as it is poured in place, then remove the dirt and restore the area.
"We're going to use concrete, put shoring up and pour it," said Clinton Myers when the contract bid was opened last November.
Work has resumed on the concrete and steel columns which have to be completed before the huge arch supporting the roadway can be built.
As the different smaller bridges and the roadway from the Mount Rose Highway are completed, Magruder said, the contractors plan to use the road to move the huge amount of dirt they'll need for the Galena Bridge project.
The final phase of the project will be construction of the interchange connecting the new freeway to the existing freeway through Washoe Valley at the Bowers Mansion turnoff.
Magruder said altogether, it will take nearly four years to complete what is, to date, the largest single highway contract in Nevada history.
When finished, he said most of the 40,000 cars which drive between Reno and Carson City every day will move off the old road through Pleasant Valley onto the new freeway.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.