The Nevada Department of Transportation board on Monday approved a resolution to condemn two parcels of land needed to build the USA Parkway, at the same time directing NDOT staff to continue negotiating to try avoid a court battle.
The two parcels totaling 4.4 acres are located at the end of the planned parkway where Opal Avenue meets U.S. 50.
NDOT made the owner an offer of $207,000 in December but owner Dario Passalalpi rejected that, instead asking NDOT to pay $1.1 million. He told media at the time the NDOT offer was half what he paid for the land.
NDOT countered offering $484,000 but was again refused. But he lowered his demand to $854,852.
The board chaired by Gov. Brian Sandoval was told Monday he might consider something in the $600,000 range, leaving the two sides less than $200,000 apart.
Asked if the decision had to be made now, project manager Pedro Rodriguez said they need the condemnation resolution so that the project connecting Tahoe Reno Industrial Center between I-80 and U.S. 50 isn’t delayed.
Once the property belongs to NDOT, the department can certify the right-of-way then move ahead with environmental testing, demolition and utility relocation in that area.
The board approved the condemnation resolution and Sandoval told both sides to continue negotiating. They will meet again Wednesday to try reach a deal and make litigation unnecessary.
In addition, the board approved a one-year $1 million contract HDR Engineering to provide “biological compliance monitoring” to protect and mitigate the impact of road and highway projects on the desert tortoise.
“It’s very costly but it’s necessary because the desert tortoise is a threatened species in Southern Nevada,” said NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon.
NDOT Environmental Services Chief Steve Cook told the board the contract amount isn’t a fixed payment to the company. Instead, he said it is spent on a per project basis as needed.
“It’s an open ended contract,” Cook said. “We may not have projects that extend to the amount of a million dollars.”
Cook also said if the mitigation is for a federal highway project, the federal government pays that part of the cost.
Sandoval said that helped with his concerns, “because it doesn’t mean we’re going to spend a million dollars.”