Transportation department seeks nearly $1.4 billion | NevadaAppeal.com

Transportation department seeks nearly $1.4 billion

The Nevada Department of Transportation is asking the governor and Legislature for a two-year budget of $1.38 billion.

Deputy Director Robert Chisel told the transportation board, headed by Gov. Kenny Guinn, that two-thirds of the total goes directly into construction of badly needed road, bridge and highway projects throughout the state.

He said it holds the line at the governor’s mandate the budget for the next two years be no more than double this year’s budget.

Construction will total $470 million a year under the proposal using highway fund money collected through gas taxes and bond proceeds. With the addition of some $135 million in bonds contained in this budget plan, he said, NDOT will have issued $1 billion in bonds to build roads vital to Nevada’s growth.

He and NDOT Director Jeff Fontaine said the department has kept a tight reign on its administrative costs and, despite the growth in the state and the workload on NDOT, is asking for only 20 new positions to its staff of more than 1,000.

Chisel said double-digit inflation, which has sharply increased contract prices for construction, also hit the department’s maintenance costs. The proposed budget includes about $80 million for maintenance of roadbeds and bridges.

The largest and most numerous projects are centered along the Interstate 15 and Highway 95 corridors in Southern Nevada. Altogether, the budget proposes $256.88 million in projects for fiscal year 2007 in Clark County.

But there are several major projects in western Nevada as well.

Those include the next segment of the Carson Freeway from Highway 50 south to Fairview Drive. That project is scheduled to go to bid before the end of this year and projected to cost $64.7 million. It will be accompanied by a Carson City project that will expand Fairview Drive to carry freeway traffic back to South Carson Street.

Completion of the bypass to the Spooner junction is in the proposed projects for the next biennium, 2008-2009.

Another major project on the list for the coming two-year cycle is completion of the Galena Creek bridge and the highway which will complete the freeway between Reno and Carson City. Bids for that combined project will be opened later this month and are expected to be more than $300 million.

The interchange connecting Interstate 80 and Highway 50 at East Fernley is on the list this cycle for about $15 million.

And there are several – mostly smaller – projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The largest of those is the $15 million environmental and repaving project on Highway 50 from Nevada Beach Road to the Douglas-Carson line. After that, there is the $1.8 million ditch line, repave and curbing project on State Route 28 near Sand Harbor.

The proposed NDOT budgets now have to go through the Department of Administration and Guinn administration reviews before any recommendations are submitted to the 2007 Legislature.

Finally, Washoe County has $42.1 million in projects on the list. Some $28 million of that is work at Meadowood Mall Way, adding frontage roads, on and off-ramps and rehabilitating existing road structures in that area.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.