Galena bridge/I-580 contract awarded despite cost |

Galena bridge/I-580 contract awarded despite cost

Nevada Department of Transportation An artist's rendering of the Galena Creek Bridge.

The Nevada transportation board voted Monday to award the $393.4 million contract to complete the Galena Creek Bridge and the freeway between Reno and Carson City even though the bid is $75 million more than engineers expected.

Gov. Kenny Guinn, chairman of the board, agreed with Transportation Department Director Jeff Fontaine that, with double-digit inflation in road building materials, waiting will only increase the total price tag more.

Fisher Sand and Gravel of Phoenix should be formally awarded the contract later this week and Nevada Department of Transportation officials said they expect work to resume by January.

Work on the bridge – which accounts for as much as $95 million of the total – was halted in June after bridge contractor, Edward Kraemer & Sons, pulled out in a disagreement over whether the huge steel arch supporting the 1,719-foot-long, 300-foot-high bridge could be safely erected given wind conditions at the site.

The rest of the contract is for construction of 8.5 miles of freeway from the Mount Rose Junction to the north end of Washoe Valley, which will complete the freeway between Reno and Carson City.

NDOT Director Jeff Fontaine said the other alternatives including rebidding the project, dividing it into smaller projects and abandoning it to find another route would all involve multi-year delays and, in the end, much higher costs. He said inflation in roadbuilding materials was 10 percent two years ago, then 14 percent and probably 14 percent again this year with no end in sight.

Gov. Guinn and member Jim Thornton both agreed.

Guinn said the freeway was deemed a vital project 20 years ago and, if anything, is more important today.

Thornton said he has long thought the route chosen was the wrong one.

“But the decision where to locate this was never an engineering decision,” he said. “It was always a political decision.”

He said that doesn’t change the need for the freeway.

“We have to live with where it is.”

Fontaine said the extra money won’t come out of other major projects needed around the state. He said NDOT will instead cut its roadway preservation program back from $130 million a year to about $75 million for the next three years. He said the cuts will not affect maintenance of Nevada’s interstate system and shouldn’t dramatically lower the condition of the state’s roadways.

As for the problem in erecting the bridge, Clinton Myers, of C.C. Myers in Sacramento, said his plan avoids the problems of raising two, huge steel beams and joining them in the middle.

“We’re not going to build it the way they’ve got it designed,” he said. “We’re going to use concrete, put shoring up and pour it.”

Myers said his company has put up “thousands – I have no idea how many” of bridges.

Including the $50 million Kraemer was paid for work on the Galena and three smaller bridges, the contract with Fisher brings the total cost of the 8.5 mile stretch of freeway to just more than $443 million.

It will take just over four years to complete the work.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.