V&T officials look forward to $10 million federal grant

The Virginia & Truckee Railway is $10 million richer, but officials are waiting to see what conditions are attached to this hefty federal grant.

President Bush signed the $286.4 billion transportation bill Wednesday morning, granting millions in funding for the reconstruction of the V&T, a $30 million tourist rail line that will operate between Carson City and Virginia City. Officials hope to have the entire 18-mile length open for business by 2009.

The chairman for the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction for the V&T Railway said Wednesday that the board would rather receive the money in a lump sum, rather than it trickling in. The Federal Highway Administration wants to be in the lead for the project oversight.

"We're waiting to see if there are any special conditions on the money that would cause construction costs to go up," commission Chairman Bob Hadfield said.

It's the commission's hope that the legislation, inserted into the bill by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., allows the commission to automatically plug it into building phase two of the project, which Hadfield said they hope to have out to bid by next summer.

"We are building the railroad to Carson City, period," he said. "We're coming down the hill and it was an engineering marvel when it was built and its going to be an engineering challenge even now, the evidence of that is the Overman Pit."

The greatest difficulty with completing phase one, - 1.4 miles from the Gold Hill Depot to American Flat - was spanning the Overman Pit, a scar left on the land from the mining days. Construction workers have completed filling a portion of the pit that the tracks will cross over. Rails have been laid for more than one-third of the length.

Phase two is the construction of 9.3 miles of track from the end of phase one to Highway 50 at the Carson City and Lyon county line. It's expected to cost $10.7 million.

Figuring that building each mile will cost $1 million, Hadfield anticipates that the entire grant will be spent getting down to Highway 50. Complications will also arise with acquiring right-of-way and re-engineering the line because of mining encroachment.

"I'm really appreciative and thankful that Senator Reid was able to get that money for Northern Nevada," said Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Candy Duncan. "It's going to be an amazing project that will have a far-reaching impact on our tourism economy and quality of life."

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


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