The installation of four concrete triple-box drainage culverts on U.S. Highway 95 south of Fallon will be completed by Friday.
Spokeswoman Meg Ragonese of the Nevada Department of Transportation said work began Thursday over a three-mile stretch on U.S. 95, the main north-south highway that extends in-state from the Oregon border to Southern Nevada. Crews from NDOT and Ames Construction Co., dug up the highway to install the culverts south of Pasture Road. A separation of three miles extends from the first to the fourth culvert.
Larry Bogey, NDOT’s residential engineer, said about 26 people from both the state and Ames Construction are on site, and he agrees the project should be done by Friday. Mitigating potential flooding with the installation of culverts is a first for Bogey.
“This is the first one I know we have done out here in about 15 to 16 years,” he said.
Ragonese said the culverts will be added to 10 existing roadway culverts to help channel floodwaters underneath the highway to Carson Lake east of U.S. 95. She said the improvements should mitigate potential flooding in future years.
“We’re making sure we are taking appropriate action for the highway to be prepared for the flooding,” she said Monday.
Ragonese said a team of hydrologists studied maps and prior history to determine the location of the new culverts.
“They determined through a topographical map of the basin by identifying the low-lying areas where water would go,” she said.
Along each installed culvert, construction crews have been digging out long ditches for the water to drain into and then through the culverts to the other side and east toward Carson Lake.
Late last week in a plan to lower the level of Lahontan Reservoir so more runoff from the Sierra could be stored, the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, along with crews from the Churchill County Road Department and out-of-state firms, constructed a spillway on the V-line canal to divert water to Sheckler Reservoir and to the U.S. Navy’s Bravo 16, a training range southwest of the reservoir.
Previous TCID timetables indicate water could arrive at the culverts within days or a week. TCID District Manager Rusty Jardine said water is running at about 800 cubic feet per second at the newly installed spillway. Lahontan Reservoir has dropped almost 85,000-acre feet of water since the drawdown began in February. An acre foot is about 386,000 gallons of water.
“Water could reach the highway sometime this weekend upward to next week,” Jardine stressed.
Jardine said the flow may eventually be reduced pending an evaluation of the water release and some planned maintenance on the weir.
Ragonese said NDOT will monitor the highway for any impacts created by the standing roadside water. While traffic has been detoured on U.S. 95 either through Yerington or Gabbs, she said the right conditions could close the highway because of water flowing over the two-lane road; however, she remains optimistic the highway will not undergo any closures.
“Preliminary floodplain analysis has been conducted, and long-range weather forecasts evaluated, but there is also potential that future storms or rapid spring snow melt-off could cause storm water to flow over and temporarily close the highway,” she said in a previous media release.
The total cost to install the culverts is about $1.3 million. Since this is preventative work and not restorative, Ragonese said the State of Nevada will not receive reimbursement from the federal government.
In other flood-related news ....
As state, federal and local agencies monitor the water situation in Churchill County, Washoe County is undergoing problems with the flooding of an artificial lake in Lemmon Valley north of Reno.
The Nevada Military Department said 42 guardsmen from Fallon’s 609th Engineer Co., have been activated on state orders to help with flooding relief efforts. A Guard spokesman Tuesday said a total of 120 guardsmen from various units and 21 vehicles are on site. Washoe County, in a letter to residents, said a community meeting is slated for Wednesday night for residents to learn more about the short-term plan to prevent flood waters from affecting homes and property in Lemmon Valley.
Nine guardsmen from the 609th aided Storey County in January with snow removal, and other soldiers assisted with the flooding near Lockwood.
Bill Lawry from the county’s Emergency Operations Center said on Saturday a team spoke with residents who live near the river on the following roads or drives west of Fallon: Santa Fe, McLean, Alcorn and Phelps.
“We told them they ought to prepare,” Lawry said.
He suggested homeowners be prepared now rather than later in case there is a climatic weather event, officials would not be able to lower Lahontan Reservoir as much as they would like, or there would be a breach in the system delivering the water.