State Route 342 south of Gold Hill reopened to through traffic Thursday after months of work by Comstock Mining to reconstruct the highway.
The road was shut down this past summer after the roadway started cracking and sinking following heavy rains. The problem was an historic mine shaft beneath the roadway that has suffered a series of collapses as recently as 2006.
Comstock Mining owns the land but the Nevada Department of Transportation has the rights to operate a road over that land.
Working with the state, Storey and Lyon counties, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and environmental officials, the company agreed to realign the road to the east, away from the old mine shaft and permanently cap it. Comstock spent nearly $3 million on the project. A spokesman said the new roadway is safer and a more efficient route from Carson City to Virginia City.
In addition, Comstock President Corrado De Gasperis said the company made significant environmental and reclamation improvements in the area.
NDOT officials inspected the new roadway to ensure it met all state standards. Officials say the new roadway has wider lanes as well as much improved drainage culverts and utility work. It also provides a more efficient passage for ongoing mining operations in the area.
The SR342 realignment and historic environmental remediation has been completed in collaboration with the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers (USACE), the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
After the road was shut down last February, the company began by removing existing asphalt and fill material that included historic mine dumps. They also built a temporary bypass route.
Potentially contaminated material from the Silver Hill Mine shaft was all removed. Then the shaft was capped with iron beams and 72 cubic yards of concrete. Then the area was backfilled to provide a base for the road.
“These improvements will enhance the quality of life on the Comstock and reduce costs to the state and local municipalities, and thus, taxpayers,” according to De Gasperis.
He termed the project “an unprecedented achievement.”