V&T project rolls along, faces funding shortfalls
Appeal Staff Writer
Work on four and a half more miles of an 18-mile track that will carry a tourist train from Virginia City to Carson City will be done in about a year, according to a project engineer.
Ken Dorr, who works for the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, said all the property needed to lay track from outside the Overman Pit in Storey County to Mound House in Lyon County has been bought or donated.
Dorr said the commission will be ready to start taking bids at the end of July and will award the contract by October.
The contract will probably be for about $6 million, he said.
So far, workers have finished 1.8 miles of track from Gold Hill to around the Overman Pit. The project – funded by state grants, private donations and revenue from room and sales taxes in Carson City and Store County – is expected to cost $54 million and be finished by 2011.
But costs for the project continue to rise. At a meeting on Monday, commissioner Ray Allen said that Carson City couldn’t continue to do the commission’s accounting work for free. Washoe, Storey and Lyon counties, which are involved in the project, don’t have employees available to do the work either, he said.
The commission voted to contract an accountant for $36,000 a year.
Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira, also a commissioner, said he tried to find someone to do the work, but couldn’t and hopes the commission will find a qualified person soon, someone who hasn’t “fallen off the turnip truck.”
With all the spending on the project, the public wants to see results from its investment soon, said commissioner John Tyson. A good way to do this, he said, was to restore and operate one of the five railroad cars on which the commission has spent over $54,000.
This should be done as soon as possible, he said, so the commission will have at least one of the cars “pristine, Pullman green, with V&T Railway across the top of the letter board and ready to roll.”
The commission told Tyson to look into it. Already, however, the company selected to operate the railway declined to help pay to restore the car.
Near the end of the meeting, press manager Ken Ray brought up spending several thousand dollars on newspaper ads to thank people who have donated to the railway.
But Teixeira, who said this might be a good idea, pointed to the ads as an example of how the commission was forgetting what it need to do and that it was $14 million short of what it needed to finish the project.
“We’re out there to build a railroad,” Teixeira said “Give them a plaque, send them a letter.”
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.