After an endless stream of trucks and a huge conveyor belt removed more than two-thirds of a million cubic yards of dirt, the final leg of the Carson bypass is taking shape.
When the last four miles of that freeway are finished, the bypass is going to extend all the way from Arrowhead Drive at the north to south Carson Street at the Spooner Summit Junction with Highway 50.
The project will take another full year to complete.
The Nevada Department of Transportation said last week that progress on the freeway is about 25 percent complete. But there’s still what seems like an endless pile of dirt to be moved beneath Carson Street on that conveyor system and up the hill to the north of the Spooner Summit highway — more than 350,000 cubic yards according to Project Manager Will Hellickson of Road and Highway Builders.
Once all that dirt is removed and stored up the hill, a base 20-inches thick is going to be laid down and topped with eight inches of pavement.
“Major earthwork and excavation continues to go well and the future freeway is really beginning to take shape,” said NDOT Resident Engineer Ashley Hurlbut.
She and Hellickson said crews have made great progress despite being slowed by snow and rain that turned much of the four-mile route into a mud bog during December and January.
“From Thanksgiving to mid January, we really had limited production,” Hellickson said.
They had to wait for the mud to dry out for the huge earthmovers and trucks to be able to get back to work.
Now work is under way on huge sound walls being put up along much of the right of way from Fairview to Spooner Junction.
Those sound walls aren’t popular among some area residents who fear their view of the Sierra to the south and west will disappear behind concrete walls up to 14 feet tall.
Hellickson confirmed their fears, saying from about Clearview to the highway, “it’s going to be a concrete canyon.”
He said residents near Gary Kolb’s home north of Snyder, “pretty much all you’re going to see is the top of Job’s Peak.”
North of there, the freeway is being cut down into the ground, lower than the surrounding homes. But Hellickson said there still will be sound walls to reduce the noise those residents would otherwise suffer. From Clearview Bridge to Koontz, the roadbed is 20 feet or more below the surrounding landscape.
In all, he said crews will build 14,440 feet of sound walls along the final stretch of the bypass. He said those walls account for some $8 million of the total $42.24 million project — about 20 percent of the total cost.
Kolb, who lives on East Roland Street, said Wednesday he and some other residents would rather not have the sound walls there. He said it’s his understanding some members of the Washoe Tribe to the south would also prefer to not have the soundwalls.
Other crews are busy installing drainage pipes along the east side of the roadbed while crews atop the embankment above that trench install electrical conduit and wiring.
As the project reaches Spooner Junction, Hellickson said there’s going to be periodic lane closures to accommodate the work of building a signalized intersection connecting the bypass, Carson Street and U.S. 50 headed up to Lake Tahoe. He said there will normally be two northbound and three southbound lanes with traffic controls. Those reductions are scheduled to start in spring.
Building the signalized intersection instead of the originally planned interchange saves some $20 million and gets the project completed probably a couple of years sooner.
With this current contract, the total cost of the bypass has now reached $203.5 million.