NDOT proposes 2 corridors to extend I-11 | NevadaAppeal.com

NDOT proposes 2 corridors to extend I-11

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus
Churchill County Commission Chairman Pete Olsen, left discusses the recommendation of possibly building a proposed highway corridor to the west with Kevin Verre, NDOTs’ project manager for the Interstate 11 Planning and Environmental Linages.
Steve Ranson/LVN

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Kevin Verre

Nevada Department of Transportation

1263 S. Stewart St.

Carson City, NV 89712

email: kverre@dot.nv.gov

County officials received bad news regarding the second phase of the Interstate 11 corridor at a public meeting Thursday when the Nevada Department of Transportation said it favors two routes that end at Interstate 80 near Fernley.

Fewer than 50 people attended the meeting at the Fallon Convention Center, which displayed maps and informational on the project. A segment that would have been more favorable to Churchill County, say commissioners, is not at the top of the state’s recommendations. Churchill County Commissioner Bus Scharmann said at the March meeting the other alternatives would be devastating to the county, and he favors the B1 segment coming near Fallon.

The Mineral County Independent News, however, is reporting the B1 corridor faced pushback from Hawthorne residents, their congressman and the U.S. Army, which operates the sprawling Hawthorne Army Depot. Mineral County residents expressed their concerns about the B1 route completely bypassing their county, and the Army looked at logistics and stated any corridor coming through Hawthorne should combine the government’s rail line with highway transportation.

Commissioner Pete Olsen said Thursday routes B2 and B3 are both problematic for Churchill County.

“I still believe B1 to be the best choice for the state and county,” he said.

Dan Shaw, who also attended the informational meeting, said he’s pleased B1 is not a top route for consideration.

“I’m happy. B2 should be good for Fallon,” said Shaw, adding the B1 segment came to close to his property northwest of Fallon.

Shaw said the B3 corridor, like B1, could rip up too much agricultural land, and he doesn’t like the idea.

“That’s why I live in Fallon,” he said. “If I want to live in a big town, I’d be in Reno.”

The first phase would follow U.S. Highway 95 from Las Vegas to Tonopah, but four alternatives from Tonopah to I-80 were proposed. After an informational hearing in March that elicited additional input, a fifth corridor was added east of Walker River to the Nevada State Route 839.

In assessing the different corridors, NDOT looked at the following criteria: modal interrelationships, capacity and travel time speeds, economic vitality, transportation plans and policies, environmental sustainability, land use and management, cost, technology and community support.

Kevin Verre, NDOTs’ project manager for the Interstate 11 Planning and Environmental Linages, said B2 and B3 were strong choices and ranked high based on the criteria.

“They vetted out the best and most favorable of that criteria,” he said. “From Tonopah to Interstate 80, we were vetting all corridors against each other.”

Consultant Bryan Gant said cost and travel time are certainly factors in selecting the top corridors for further study.

Proposed corridor B4 would run through Douglas and Washoe counties and Carson City and B1 would traverse mostly federal land and cross northwest toward Salt Wells, 15 miles east of the city, and intersect U.S. 95 north of Fallon.

According to their matrix, B2 would cross Bravo 16, a SEALs training area that the U.S. Navy seeks to expand in its modernization plan. Last year’s flood mitigation sent more than 600,000 acre-feet of water into the same area, which eventually flowed eastward to Carson Lake and then to the Stillwater Refuge.

Verre said there will be additional public outreach and then more review of the corridor selection process.

NDOT spokesperson Meg Ragonese 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.

NDOT will take additional comments on the alternative analysis by Aug. 31 and then publish its final report by Sept. 30.