Nevada Protects Historic Sites in I-80 Expansion

📅   Mon February 06, 2017 - West Edition
Jennifer Rupp


Granite crews placing asphalt pavement on USA Parkway.
Granite crews placing asphalt pavement on USA Parkway.
Granite crews placing asphalt pavement on USA Parkway. Ames crews performing excavation work. Last fall, crews reached approximately 50 percent completion of the major earthwork for the project, with more than 1.3 million cu. yds. (993,921 cu m) of earth already moved to make way for the future freeway.

The USA Parkway was originally a privately built, 6-mi. (9.6 km)-long road connecting Interstate 80 to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center east of Sparks. The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) began construction in June 2016 to extend the Parkway by more than 12 mi. (19.3 km) to reach U.S. 50 near Silver Springs. The approximately 18-mi. (29 km)-long, four-lane state roadway between Interstate 80 and U.S. 50 will further link the greater Reno/Sparks and Fernley/Fallon areas with the U.S. 50 Silver Springs corridor, enhancing regional mobility and creating an additional route for commuter, freight and other traffic. The road also will help support regional economic development and serve as another route in the event of emergency or weather-related road closures.

NDOT thoroughly assessed five potential roadway alignments, ultimately selecting one alignment to most comprehensively minimize cultural, community, natural resource, construction and other impacts. The selected roadway alignment was chosen to avoid/minimize impacts to two significant historic resources. The 19th century Overland Trail stagecoach and wagon route, as well as the early-1900s Ramsey town and mine site, were both avoided.

“There also is a significant estray/wild horse population in the project area,” noted Meg Ragonese, NDOT public information officer. “Wildlife fencing and two under-crossings will be installed on the new segment of roadway to enhance safety by helping prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions. The under-crossings also will help continue access to roaming lands for wild animals and other native animals.”

Ames Construction of Carlin, Nev., was awarded the design/build contract for $75.9 million in 2016. Ames is heading up the earthwork, structural concrete, storm drains and wet utilities. Subcontractors include Granite Construction of Sparks, Nev., for paving; Nevada Barricade & Sign Company, also of Sparks for Traffic control, guardrail and striping; and Par Electrical Contractors of Reno, Nev., for ITS and lighting.

Major earthwork is approximately 50 percent complete, with nearly 1.3 million cu. yds. (993,921 cu m) of earth already moved to make way for the future freeway. This fall, crews have been busy paving the first segment of future roadway from the end of the existing, paved USA Parkway to the Lyon County line.

Construction will continue through late 2017 with:

• Continuing earthwork and excavation to create the new roadway alignment, totaling 2.4 million cu. yds. (1.8 million cu m) of earth and 350,000 cu. yds. (267,594 cu m) of rock excavation

• Installation of two wildlife under-crossings and roadside animal fencing

• Construction of a roundabout at the future USA Parkway/U.S. 50 intersection in Silver Springs

• 245,000 tons (222,260 t) of asphalt paving, striping, drainage, signage and guardrail

Aesthetic treatments will be added to enhance the project, including decorative rock depicting scenes of emigrants moving west, fur trappers and early explorers. Artist Kate Raudenbush has been commissioned to create a sculpture for the entry to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC).

The future USA Parkway will greatly increase mobility between the I-80 Reno-Sparks corridor and the Silver Springs/Dayton communities located on U.S. 50. In fact, the project is projected to reduce travel times by as much as 38 percent for those traveling between U.S. 50 and I-80.

Because most of the project is taking place in an unpopulated area, construction work has minimal impact on mobility: currently, there are minor lane closures on the existing section of USA Parkway. Later this year, minor traffic control will take place on U.S. 50 in Silver Springs as a traffic roundabout is installed connecting the new roadway to U.S. 50. For construction updates, visit www.usaparkway.com.—CEG