Draft agreement commits city to additional $15M for freeway | NevadaAppeal.com

Draft agreement commits city to additional $15M for freeway

Jill Lufrano

Carson City transportation officials will meet Wednesday to consider contributing an additional $15 million in gas taxes to pay for the second half of the freeway.

In return, Nevada Department of Transportation would agree to set specific deadlines to complete the freeway to Fairview Drive by February 2006 and the entire freeway by 2010.

The agreement would also obligate the state to hand over Carson Street to the city after it is rehabilitated and the freeway is finished.

“We’ve all talked about these dates before, but (NDOT) has never committed,” said Andrew Burnham, city director of Development Services. “Getting them to commit to dates is a big deal for us.”

City and state transportation boards must both approve the interlocal agreement.

Motorist will pay for the project through a 5 cents-per-gallon gas tax if approved. The payment boosts Carson City’s total share to $34 million for the $165 million project.

Carson officials say by funding the project, the city is able to negotiate with state transportation to set timelines and ensure a timely completion.

“The funding of an additional $15 million is significant for the residents of Carson City, but it is becoming more the norm in order to allow NDOT to proceed with projects such as the Carson City Freeway based on the competition for funding statewide,” said City Manager Linda Ritter.

Completion of the freeway will also have the largest impact to relieve traffic than any other project the city could undertake, officials said Monday.

“To solve so many transportation problems with that amount of money – it’s a very, very good deal,” Ritter said.

The idea of incorporating a pedestrian or bicycle trail along the second half was revived in the agreement. The path plan was eliminated during negotiations with the state for the first half of the freeway.

In May, residents expressed strong interest to revive the trail plan during the city’s transportation plan review. As a result, the agreement includes language that sets up the possibility. But if the path starts affecting the freeway construction, the state won’t accommodate it.

“We’re trying to accommodate the path to the degree that we can,” said Deputy City Engineer John Flansberg. “Now, it’s back on the table.”

As part of the deal, the state will forgive interest payments on the first phase, at a savings of $4 million.

The state will also allow the city to defer paying the state for three years while collecting about $5.1 million from the gas tax. The funds will allow the city to go ahead with other projects, including widening Fairview Drive to accommodate traffic once the freeway drops drivers off at the street in early 2006.

In 2012, the city can keep 2 cents per gallon of the 5 cents of the fuel tax, allowing funding for needed city projects. If agreed to by the city’s Board of Supervisors, the funds would net about $700,000 annually.

Even with the $15 million freeway obligation, the city will have enough other funding to complete about $38 million in street projects over the next 20 years, Burnham said.

NDOT Director Jeff Fontaine said the state has worked with the city to firm up funding for the freeway’s completion.

“We believe the city’s proposed contribution will help the project to continue moving forward,” Fontaine said.

If approved by the city’s Regional Transportation Commission, the agreement will be considered by the State Transportation Board in September.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.