NDOT updates commission on existing and future projects

WINNEMUCCA — There’s little that’s more frustrating than slow or stopped traffic due to road construction.  But eventually all roads must be repaired, and the same is true of bridges and other elements of the infrastructure.

Rudy Malfabon, Deputy Director for Southern Nevada Department of Transportation, was recently before the Humboldt County Commission to present a report on near future and long-range projects.

The good news was NDOT was able to work out a solution for some of the half-finished projects in town.  Readers may remember a shuffling of paperwork between the federal and state government was necessary to get the projects completed.

The half-finished projects include, but are not limited to,  Hanson St. in front of the Post Office and Jungo Rd.

ROADWAY SAFETY:  NDOT will continue efforts to make roadways safer through the addition of more rumble strips, median barriers, striping and additional signage as part of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

Malfabon said NDOT has adopted a zero-fatalities goal.

He commented, “Some people might say that’s not realistic … we’ll never have zero fatalities.  But if you ask someone on an individual basis how many of their family members  they would want to have a fatality, they’d say, “None.”  That’s the way we’re approaching it, too.”

He said there has been some success in years past.  NDOT saw fatals drop from 434 in 2006 to 256 in 2010. Lending itself to that success was a bad economy that saw less folks willing or able to take road trips, so there were simply less vehicles on the road.

Malfabon reported fatalities will probably increase this year.  Included in the 2011 statistic will be the semi v train accident in Churchill County earlier this year that left multiple people dead along with the driver of the truck.

Along those lines, Malfabon reported the 411system continues to be a success – allowing people to check on road conditions with their phone, or check the NDOT website, before they leave home, which is especially helpful in the winter.

ROAD PROJECTS: Despite a lackluster state economy, construction of/improvements to Nevada’s roadways goes on.

Malfabon said they were actually able to add a few more projects to the list because the bids coming in were good and resulted in cost savings..

In Humboldt County, the construction of an acceleration lane at the intersection of US 95 and SR 140 is a go, and it is anticipated the project could be completed by fall.

Projects that will be realized in near future include extensive work on SR 140, US 95, Airport Rd., and the mine road leading out of Golconda – a $15.8 million project.

Interstate 80 will also undergo extensive construction – including a nearly $30 million project from the Humboldt/Pershing county lines to the West Winnemucca interchange slated to begin next year.

Additionally,  a $15.7 million project will improve the Interstate from Button Pt. to Iron Pt..

However, the improvements aren’t all about the roads.

The rest stop at Button Point has been declared a substandard rest park and will be demolished and rebuilt.

Additionally, NDOT plans to replace the substandard bridge on Eden Valley Rd. at the Humboldt River.

Malfabon said they try to replace at least one substandard bridge a year to keep up with performance standards.  He noted bridges can be perfectly safe; yet, they may not be wide enough or the clearance isn’t tall enough..  Still other bridges are not up to current safety standards.

Included in NDOT’s long-range plans was the interchange on Interstate 80 at milemarker 173.  The overpass at the interchange would cost an estimated $10 million to correct.

Malfabon said NDOT did make some improvements there to include additional signing and striping.

He commented, “There are some major considerations on our long-range element of our work program to look at how we would address that.”

He added certain considerations would have to be undertaken – to include a determination of which part of the property is NDOT’s and what right-of-ways would have to be acquired.

Additionally, when construction involves the Interstate there also has to be input and approval from the Federal Highway Administration.

Commissioner Tom Fransway questioned the $10 million estimated price tag for the interchange improvement.

He said, “It just doesn’t seem to be that big of a project, and I would just hope that NDOT would do what it can to go through that, and make the improvements, without that type of expenditure.”

He took the opportunity to thank NDOT for the improvements already made at the interchange, but added, “In the long range I just have a hard time seeing $10 million out there.”

Malfabon noted the $10 million was just an estimate.

He commented, “Obviously a lot of scoping work has to be done.  There might be a solution that we come up with that’s substantially less that that.”

However, he noted NDOT has looked at the skew of the bridge, and if the bridge has to be redone the price tag would be more than $10 million.  He reiterated there might be a solution that costs less than that, as well.

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