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USA Parkway to be built by end of 2017 as part of Tesla deal

The Nevada Department of Transportation board was told on Monday that building the USA Parkway between Highway 50 and the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center will force one-year delays in seven different Northern Nevada road projects.

All on the list are highway maintenance jobs — including one in Carson City.

That project, $4.9 million worth of surface rehabilitation on U.S. 395 from Highway 50 to just south of the Washoe County line, was set for 2017. It will move back to 2018.

Assistant NDOT Director John Terry told the board headed by Gov. Brian Sandoval that moving those projects back a year will free up an estimated $71.3 million — enough to cover the $65 million cost of the four-lane highway plus the estimated $5 million needed to expand Highway 50 to four lanes to where the parkway will end at Silver Springs.

The $43 million needed to purchase the right-of-way for the parkway project, he said, will come out of the $203 million NDOT has in the bank in Highway Fund money.

Plans are to further speed the work by using the design-build process in which work begins while design still is being completed.

Sandoval emphasized that all the work will be done without negatively impacting any Southern Nevada projects.

The project is necessary as part of the state’s incentive deal to lure Tesla Motors’ gigafactory plant to the TRIC.

Terry and NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon said using NDOT’s standard formulas, the parkway project has the potential to generate more than nine times its cost in savings, which Sandoval said is the highest cost-benefit ratio he has seen in his tenure on the board.

Malfabon said that is a combination of savings from reduced travel time for people driving from Silver Springs to Reno, from reduced vehicle operating costs, reduced vehicle emissions and fewer accidents.

Terry said the new highway through the industrial center will not only provide access for Lyon County residents to work there but greatly shorten the trip from the Dayton corridor to Reno.

He also emphasized that the projects being delayed are coming off the bottom of the roadway rehabilitation list, which means they are the projects least likely to become more expensive before of a year’s delay.

In addition, roadwork on Highway 50 at the Churchill/Lander County line and in Lyon County from Silver Springs to State Route 427 in Lyon County will move from 2016 to 2017. That will free up $25.4 million for the parkway construction.

The other four projects are all on Interstate 80 and include $13.4 million to rehab the freeway from the California line to Keystone Avenue in Reno and the $13.6 million worth of work from East Fernley to the Lyon/Churchill line. They too will wait until 2018.

The final two projects moving back to 2018 are repaving projects, one at the west end of the Carlin Tunnels and the other east of the Winnemucca Interchange. The two total $14 million.

The parkway project will improve the existing six miles of four-lane from I-80 through the industrial center, pave the four miles of graded dirt road that ends at the Lyon/Storey county line and build another 8.5 miles of new roadway through the mountains of the Virginia Range to Opal Avenue’s intersection with Highway 50 at Silver springs.

Sandoval was told the parkway has been on NDOT’s list of future construction for several years. Terry pointed out that the Environmental Impact Statement on the project approved this month has been under way for three years.

“You have established there is a critical need for this project,” said Sandoval.

He said it will open access to a more diverse housing market in Lyon County, reduce commute times through the area and benefit the environment.

“I thing we can’t afford not to do this,” he said.

The board unanimously approved NDOT’s plan to move forward with the parkway construction.