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Bond sale approved for Vegas freeway right of way

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who chairs the board, cited a sense of urgency to buy property along the 3.7-mile route to widen Interstate 15 between Sahara Avenue and the Spaghetti Bowl near downtown.

By Sandra Chereb
The Associated Press

1/15/2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A $100 million bond sale to buy right of way and fast-track a Las Vegas freeway project that will be the largest road project in Nevada history was approved Tuesday by state Board of Finance.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who chairs the board, cited a sense of urgency to buy property along the 3.7-mile route to widen Interstate 15 between Sahara Avenue and the Spaghetti Bowl near downtown.

About 257,000 vehicles a day travel the stretch of freeway being widened from Sahara Avenue to the Spaghetti Bowl.

Property values have doubled over the past year and will only continue to rise, Sandoval said.

Project Neon will involve a partnership between the state and a private team that will help finance, build and maintain it. The project's total cost is estimated at $1 billion.

"It is critical we build this project now to address a major transportation choke point in the Las Vegas Valley," said Rudy Malfabon, director of the state Department of Transportation. About 100 parcels are needed.

Three private groups have expressed interest in pursuing the public-private partnership, known as a P-3.

Under that concept approved by the state Transportation Board, the team selected will help finance, design, construct and maintain the roadway for 35 years.

The private team would be paid $200 million after completion in 2020 and receive roughly $35 million a year to maintain it.

Money shelled out by the private group would be repaid through a combination of available federal aid and Nevada fuel taxes, Malfabon said.

"Because of the immediate need for this project, it cannot be delayed without significantly increasing cost and deferring the much-needed safety, mobility and improvements that support economic development," he said.

Using traditional funding methods of state-backed bonds would delay completion until 2030. The P-3 concept also will allow the agency to maintain its annual $380 million capital improvement fund for other road projects around the state.

The Transportation Board could finalize language for a request for proposals this spring, with the final selection of the private team expected early next year.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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