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Las Vegas bridge moving to Carson City

by Susie Vasquez

A little Virginia & Truckee Railroad history will be made this week when the Interstate 15 bridge in Las Vegas is dismantled and brought by truck to Carson City.

The move is a real victory for those who have struggled to restore the V&T Railway, said Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko.

“The bridge is a statement: We are making progress, and we will reach Highway 50,” he said. “This bridge signifies that we have a project and the funding to make it happen.”

Built in the 1960s, the bridge crosses I-15 south of Russell Road in Las Vegas. A spur of the Union Pacific Railroad, it was replaced when the freeway was widened.

Dismantling was scheduled to begin Sunday night. The bridge will be divided into three sections to be placed on separate trucks. Jake’s Cranes in Las Vegas will load the sections today and Tuesday and Wednesday nights, said Ron Bunker, transportation manager for the company.

Once mounted, the sections will be painted to remove graffiti. A date for transport should be set this week.

A definite route had not yet been set as of press time, but Highway 95 was the most likely candidate. The trip should take about 16 hours over two days, said Grant Youngren, project engineer for Granite Construction.

“We’re using regular equipment-hauling trailers,” Bunker said. “The only thing out of the ordinary is that the loads are a little wide. We’ll have Highway Patrol escorts because of the bridge’s size.”

Donated by the Nevada Department of Transportation, the bridge will be stored at Carson City’s Parker/Carson Stolport. Airport owner James L. Parker said the runway, which isn’t being used, can be seen from the highway, and the bridge will be easy to spot.

“It’s the first time the people in Northern Nevada will be able to see something tangible,” Parker said. “Where the V&T project is concerned, this bridge will be 160 feet of reality.”

The bridge can be stored at the airport for 18 months. No time line has been set for placement, but it will ultimately pass over Highway 50 at the Carson City-Lyon County line.

Masayko said the V&T project should be completed to Highway 50 in the next couple of years.

“Once that happens, we’ll have a destination,” he said. “That doesn’t mean the project will be completed. We won’t have any terminals, and the route along the river won’t be completed, but we’d like to run trains as soon as we reach the highway.”

Many entities have donated time and effort to the bridge project.

The cost of dismantling and transportation totals about $120,000, and the transportation department and the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway split the cost.

Granite Construction is coordinating the work, and several subcontractors are involved including Olsen-Beal, the bridge contractor doing the dismantling. Jake’s Cranes donated the time and trucks for transport and Robison-Prezioso in Las Vegas is the painting contractor for the project.

Built between 1869 and 1872, the V&T supplied the mines of Virginia City with material and transported ore to the mills in the valley below. It was abandoned in 1938, and stopped operating completely May 31, 1950.

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