Appearing before the Lincoln County Board of County Commissioners Aug. 5, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) presented a summary of its work projects planned for the 2020 fiscal year.
Lee Bonner and some of his staff from Carson City were on hand at the meeting along with some local NDOT employees and members of the Las Vegas office.
Bonner presented some NDOT statistics showing that in Lincoln County alone, about $3,861,000 is usually spent for roadwork.
The board of commissioners stated that the top two priorities for roadwork in Lincoln County are resurfacing SR319 from Panaca to the Utah state line and shoulder paving, widening, slope flattening and adding passing lanes to U.S. 93 south of Alamo.
Commission chair Varlin Higbee, a retired NDOT employee, said there are very narrow places on U.S. 93 where the guardrails are so close on both sides of the highway that truckers refer to the area as “Pinball Alley.”
NDOT has plans to put in a passing/ turning lane at the Pahranagat National Wildlife entrance.
Bonner said the work plan NDOT submitted this year for approval included a multi-use path on SR317, a chip seal project east of Crystal Springs and north of Hiko, 32 miles of chip seal on SR375, a 19-mile section east of Pioche on 93, regrade of land for safety on SR321/322, and five vehicle passing lanes along with $500,000 for the Alamo maintenance yard for a total budget expenditure of $3,572,000.
Commissioners said they felt the work on 319 from Panaca to the Utah state line is of utmost importance.
This is because oversized commercial loads can’t take I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge. Instead, they have to be rerouted through Cedar City to Panaca or vice versa.
This is causing extreme wear and tear on 319, especially in the Panaca Summit area. Higbee said, “The shoulders along that road are just coming apart.”
Another concern is SR322, the road from Pioche to Eagle Valley. Bonner said the NDOT has plans for a $600,000 project there in June 2020.
Higbee said he recalled a “cold mix overlay” being put on the highway about 25 years ago, but Commissioner Bevan Lister said he didn’t think the road had been completely resurfaced with hot asphalt in almost 50 years.
Former commission chair Rhonda Hornbeck said the NDOT ought to prioritize getting SR322 fixed because so many people from Clark County use that road nearly as much as locals do.
“They are up here every day,” she said. “A lot of people who do not live in Lincoln County. Just because we live in rural Lincoln County doesn’t mean that we are less important than those who live in Vegas.”
Bonner said road project are prioritized by how much use a road gets. He didn’t think a daily vehicle count of 230 in Lincoln County weighed as much as roads in other places with daily vehicles counts in the thousands. “Hard decisions for us to make. How to take $100 million and split it?”
Higbee countered by saying, “It’s a hard pill for us to swallow.” He cited watching millions being put into major road projects like Project Neon in the Vegas area while the local, fairly heavily traveled Lincoln County state routes are being battered by tourists and oversized commercial vehicles.
After hearing the discussions and presentations, the board approved the NDOT work plan for 2020.