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First phase of V&T could go to bid soon

by Susie Vasquez

VIRGINIA CITY – Construction on the historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad between Virginia City and Carson City could begin as early as this summer, an attorney for the project said.

Contracts to build the stretch could be sought this summer, said attorney Michael Smiley Rowe, a representative for the Nevada Commission for Reconstruction of the V&T Railway.

Final approval of nearly 10 miles of easements granted by the Bureau of Land Management is expected Monday at the meeting of the commission. The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Room 2135 of the Legislative Building, said Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko. On Tuesday, Storey County commissioners granted the easements for the historic V&T Railway.

“We’ve made more progress on the V&T reconstruction in the past 12 months than in the history of the project,” said Storey County Commission chairman Bob Kershaw. “Reconstruction of the V&T isn’t a pipe dream anymore. It’s a reality.”

The vote came on the heels of the announcement the easements had been granted for 10 miles of the 17-mile route, which snakes from Gold Hill to Carson City’s Deer Run Road, said BLM spokesman Mark Struble.

“I’m told everything is done, we’re just waiting for the paperwork to come back,” he said.

Gaining the rights-of-way is complicated by the Comstock’s mining history. Miners who staked their claims would leave without completing paperwork. Others would stake the same claim, and often more than one party would be listed as the owner.

The rights-of-way must be acquired from each owner, no matter how small the parcel.

“One of the easements we approved today was just 150 square feet,” Kershaw said.

Those who own modern mining claims must also be approached, and both permanent and temporary easements must be acquired, the latter for access during construction, Rowe said.

“It’s been an interesting process involving many phone calls and meetings between the property owners and me,” he said. “We’re making excellent progress, in view of what we’re dealing with.”

The process is a federal requirement, which must be followed to qualify for the $2.8 million in federal funds set aside for the project, Rowe said.

Masayko said crossing Overman Pit is expected to cost about $4 million. The measure passed by Storey County easily and is an important step toward construction of Phase 1, the first 1.1 miles across the pit.

Once under way, officials estimate the completion of this project should take about two years. Economic impact statements project a $40.9 million positive effect from the construction project alone.

Once the train is operating, the annual economic impact for the region is estimated at $16.5 million.

Built between 1869 and 1872 by private investors, the V&T supplied the mines of Virginia City with lumber and transported ore to mills in the valley in Carson River canyon.

Contact Susie Vasquez at svasquez@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.