News

The Nevada Department of Transportation Board on Monday approved a $75.9 million contract with Ames Construction to build the USA Parkway connecting Interstate 80 to U.S. 50 through the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

Project Manager Pedro Rodriguez said the company has agreed to a schedule that will finish the road a 125 days ahead of the Dec. 31, 2017, deadline.

Ames was recommended by Department of Transportation staff a month ago after the company came in $2 million below the next lowest bidder.

Rodriguez said the company plans to begin work in the spring with phase one — improvements to the existing six miles of paved roadway from the I-80 interchange at Patrick into the industrial center. After that, he said they will work on the four miles of graded gravel roadway, followed by construction of the remaining 8.5 miles of road through the Virginia Range to Highway 50 at Opal Lane.

Board members including Gov. Brian Sandoval and Ron Knecht praised the project as a game changer for the region that is key to the success of Tesla, Switch and other major firms either committed to moving into the area or considering it.

“I view this as really an essential part of our transportation network,” Knecht said.

Assistant NDOT Director for Engineering John Terry told the board the project doesn’t include improvements to the interchange at Patrick. He said that is a potential project being studied by his staff at this point.

He made the statement after Sandoval questioned whether that interchange was adequate to serve the needs of the TRIC. Sandoval pointed out that an overturned truck blocked access to the park when he last visited the site.

“We did not want to make that interchange part of this design-build project because that added in other complications,” Terry told the board.

Sandoval also questioned whether the planned roundabout connecting Highway 50 to USA Parkway would be adequate if there was an accident.

Terry conceded that if a truck wreck blocked all four lanes there, it would temporarily prevent access from that direction.

Rodriguez said the project does include wildlife fences to keep estray horses off the highway along a majority of the route.

Geoff Dornan