Freeway bid process starts after several delays

After three delays in two months, the Nevada Department of Transportation today will advertise for bids for the first part of the Carson City freeway.

NDOT will search for a contractor to build bridges at College Parkway, Emerson Drive, Northgate Lane and Arrowhead Drive for first phase of the project.

The lowest responsible bidder will be chosen about a month after the advertisement date and construction should begin in March or April, NDOT Spokesman Scott Magruder said. The contractor will have a year from the time the project bid is awarded to finish the $15.3 million bridge construction project, the price tag of which has bounced between $13 million and $17 million.

The advertisement date was delayed in November due to design changes to the College Parkway interchange. It was delayed twice in December while NDOT and The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers waited for public comments to evaluate the impact of the freeway on wetlands and waterways.

Several Carson City residents expressed concern earlier this month that freeway construction would displace 11 acres of Carson wetland. Plans were to replace the wetlands with some existing in Washoe Valley.

The 200-acres of wetlands in Washoe Valley were created as a bank of sorts to replace wetlands from Washoe south to Douglas County impacted by NDOT projects, said the department's environmental services chief Daryl James. To date, about 100 of those acres have been subtracted, 35 acres which will be set aside for Carson wetlands, according to James.

Carson open space committee members asked that Carson wetlands be replaced within Eagle Valley, not in Washoe Valley.

Although the Army Corps of Engineer's report on public comments won't be available until January, NDOT caved to public concerns and will create 11 acres of wetlands near Butti Way and Edmonds Drive. Magruder said Carson City was getting a deal in replacing 11 acres of wetlands with essentially 46 acres.

"We are creating in Carson City better quality wetlands," James added. "We're replacing the wetlands four times over. We're responding to what the taxpayers wanted. If this is where people want their money to go, we want to respond to the public concern in this valley."

Open Space Committee Member Deborah Uhart was outspoken about the wetlands being replaced in Carson City and said she was pleased with the 1-to-1 wetland replacement ratio.

"This is a nice gift for Carson City," Uhart said. "It's difficult for the average Carson City resident to gain anything but ascetics from whizzing by wetlands on the highway to Reno. This is not necessarily the easiest solution, but I'm thrilled they were able to fashion something to take care of this."

Army Corps Spokesman Jason Fanselau said the corps was pleased with NDOT's efforts and would issue the permit necessary to build on and replace wetlands in January.

"The department of transportation has been very, very cooperative," Fanselau said. "We're very satisfied with the progress the department has made."

Carson City will receive other benefits from the freeway, including drainage improvements and 40 acres of open space in the form of drainage basins.

Carson City also began its first official foray into the freeway bidding process this month by advertising for bids on utility work associated with Phase 1A.

The $2.3 million project includes relocating water, sewer and reclaimed water facilities in the College Parkway/Northgate Lane area.

Bids will be accepted on the utility work until Jan. 19. A contractor should be chosen by February, and ground should be broken on the utility projects sometime in March.


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