A series of public hearings to discuss the corridor selection for Interstate 11 are slated for Thursday in Fernley and Fallon, two communities that may benefit from the new four-lane highway.
Churchill County commissioners said at their July 18 meeting two corridors seem to be the state’s favorite based on a conference call with the Nevada Department of Transportation earlier in the week.
Fernley’s meeting on Thursday is from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the high school 1300 U.S. 95A with a formal presentation at noon. The Fallon presentation at the convention center follows from 4-7 p.m.
Commissioner Bus Scharmann said he was not pleased with the preliminary study eliminating a corridor route the Churchill County commissioners preferred. Commissioners and most people at a hearing earlier this year preferred the B1 route, which would traverse mostly federal land and cross northwest toward Salt Wells, 15 miles east of Fallon and intersects U.S. 95 north of the city.
Instead, Scharmann said it appears the state prefers routes B2 and B3, which both extend to Fernley. The B2 route follows U.S. 95 but heads east around Walker Lake and then north toward Churchill County veering northwest across Naval Air Station Fallon’s Bravo 16 Navy training grounds, across U.S. Highway 50, to Fernley.
“That route will go through an area that was under water last year,” Scharmann pointed out.
The U.S. Navy also has conducted hearings on a modernization plan that proposes to double the size of Bravo 16 and other ranges east of Fallon.
The B1 corridor, though, faced strong concerns from Hawthorne residents according to the Mineral County Independent News. While the B1 route looks good for Churchill County, it completely avoids Mineral County by taking an easterly route. Mineral County residents expressed their concerns at a meeting about the route bypassing Hawthorne and Schurz.
Congressman Ruben J. Kiheun, D-Las Vegas, who represents Mineral County in District 4, sent a letter to Gov. Brian Sandoval and NDOT in March expressing his concerns for the B1 route.
“I am strongly concerned that the Alternative Route B1 bypasses the towns of Mina, Luning, Hawthorne, Walker Lake, Schurz and Yerington, passing only through the town of Gabbs,” he wrote. “This route creates a corridor of approximately 200 miles that is almost entirely devoid of infrastructure and necessary services, including law enforcement, medical facilities and personnel, and fire rescue services. As you are aware, the town of Gabbs has a population of approximately 250 people, and currently depends on the communities of Tonopah and Hawthorne for basic services.”
The B3 route follows B2 to north of Walker Lake but then heads northwest into Lyon County through prime Mason Valley agricultural land and skirts Yerington on its way toward Silver Springs and then Fernley.
“That one will eat up that great farm land in Mason Valley,” Scharmann said.
Off the radar is B4 that skirted the eastern Sierra through Douglas and Washoe counties and Carson City.
Segment A between Las Vegas and Tonopah, however, is the only alternative because of topographical constraints and land management patterns.
County Manager Jim Barbee said the county needs to actively engage NDOT and other agencies regarding the routes.
Scharmann, though, said based on the preliminary preference, the state is more interested in a Reno-Las Vegas route rather than tying in with Interstate 80 and then continuing the corridor to Idaho and eventually to the Canadian border.
“I hope to get Idaho engaged in this conversation,” Barbee added.
NDOT spokesperson Meg Ragonese said the study to select the corridor is in the preliminary stages and that the public meetings are to give communities an idea of the selection process and future steps. The state received input from individuals, private industry and government agencies to base its criteria in selecting the most appropriate route.
Ragonese said the rankings for each corridor alternative will be presented at the Fernley and Fallon meetings, and NDOT will make recommendations on those corridor alternatives which will be advanced in the future. According to information in an NDOT press release, “The evaluations help potentially narrow the feasible range of corridor alternatives for future planning and environmental review; helping streamline environmental review and development of this interstate facility over future decades. The efforts could also help designate and preserve public lands needed for the future interstate.”
Ragonese said there will be additional public outreach and review of the selection process. Once a route is selected, she said environment studies will be undertaken, and with the acquisition of funding and then the award for construction, she said it could take years before work begins on the entire 450-mile route.
“The future I-11 will not only further connect our state, but the entire West,” said NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon. “It will bring enhanced mobility, traffic safety, freight and other opportunities for Nevada.”
In other agenda items commissioners acted on the following:
Approved resolution 184-2018 that provided the transfer of Churchill County’s 2018 Private Activity Bond Volume Cap to the Nevada Rural Housing Authority.
Approved a grant agreement between Churchill County Social Services and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Community Services Block Grant for fiscal year 2018-19 for $108,207.
Tabled county participation in the funding of Community Development Block Grant between Churchill County Social Services and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
Approved Interstate Interlocal Agreement between Churchill County Social Services and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, for the provision of annual intake for the Energy Assistance Program.
Received update on public lands consulting activities and approval of comments for the BLM’s Nevada and Northeastern California Greater Sage grouse Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Approved the Churchill County Debt Management Policy for Fiscal Year 2018-19.
Reviewed Secured Log Changes pursuant to NRS 361.310 (4) for Fiscal Year 2018-19.
Approved $2,500 funding for the Fallon Lions Club Junior Rodeo.
Approved Joint Funding Agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey to continue groundwater level and water-quality data collection in the Lahontan Valley for $23,220 over a four-year period, July 1, 2018-June 30, 2022.
Adopted Resolution 185-2018 certifying the combined tax rate for the levy of taxes beginning July 1, 2018 and designating the number of cents of each $100 of property levy for each fund within the provisions of Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 361.460.
Approved job description and salary range for Churchill County’s accountant position.
Accepted engagement letter for agreed-upon procedures as required by the Administrative Office of the Court of Nevada as numerated in the Nevada Courts Minimum Accounting Standards Guide for External Audits Years 2018 and 2019 for the Tenth Judicial District Court and the New River Township Justice Court for fiscal year 2017-18.
Authorized Churchill County to join class action lawsuit regarding the recovery of funds due under the PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes)Act for fiscal years 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Approve to purchase of a conservation/restrictive use easement with Scott Lewis Nygren and Denver Scott Nygren on Assessor’s Parcel Number 007-572-02, totaling 63.50 acres with 61.40 water-righted acres.