Funding for V&T running out of steam

By Dave Frank

Appeal Staff Writer

Construction of the 18-mile tourist railroad that will run from Virginia City to Carson City could stall in a year if the project doesn't get more money.

The assets for the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V & T Railway increased $1.5 million in the last fiscal year, but revenue dropped by more than $19 million, according to an audit by the Reno firm Kafoury, Armstrong and Co.

Major grants from the state, Carson City and the Carson City Convention and Visitor's Bureau came in fiscal year 2006 but not in fiscal year 2007, the audit said.

Another reason for the drop was the Legislature's rejection of an $8 million request from the commission at its last session.

Railway representatives have said they will continue to lobby local, state and federal officials this year.

The $54 million project is expected to be done in 2011 and the commission has raised about $40 million so far, including $21 million from Carson City. Workers have finished about a mile and a half of track from Gold Hill to the Overman Pit and have started on about 4.5 miles from American Flat in Storey County south to Mound House in Lyon County, which is expected to be done in August.

Work will then start on the next 5 miles, which will take the railroad across Highway 50 into Carson City.

That's scheduled to be done around February 2009, but it could stop there. Indefinitely.

Bob Hadfield, head of the commission, said at a meeting on Monday that "the revenue is not there," and construction "might have to take a break" when the railroad crosses the highway.

"We need to start kicking ourselves somewhere to make sure we're pulling it together," said Commissioner Dwight Millard.

The train might have to run from Gold Hill to a temporary depot at the edge of Carson City until the commission can get more money, several commissioners said.

Seeing a train run on part of the track would at least let people know the project isn't "some wish somewhere out there in the sky," said Commissioner Ron Allen.

The commission is in negotiations with the Gray family to buy the Virginia & Truckee Railroad Co. so the 19th-century revival train can run to Virginia City, rather than stopping south at Gold Hill.

Commissioners Hadfield and Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira criticized counties, such as Lyon and Douglas, that are represented on the commission but have contributed little to the project.

"Carson City's in $21 million," Teixeira said, "and I don't see a lot of people raising their hand saying, 'Sign me up.'"

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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