Construction starts Monday on the final phase of the freeway bypass — a day many in the capital thought they’d never see.
But don’t expect to drive over the road stretching from Carson’s northern boundary to Spooner Junction anytime soon. The final four miles of freeway will take nearly two full construction seasons to complete. Depending on the weather, that could be late 2016 or 2017.
In good part, according to Resident Engineer Stephen Lani, that will be because the contractor will have to move more than 1 million cubic yards of dirt in order to prepare for a base and pavement layer two feet thick.
But Will Hellickson of Road and Highway Builders of Sparks said that doesn’t mean construction comes to a halt in the winter. He said that’s a good time to do a lot of the dirt moving.
The bulk of the dirt being moved will come from the area north of the Clearview overpass. In some places, the contractor will have to remove more than 10 feet of dirt from beneath and between the south of Fairview Drive.
But it won’t go to waste. That dirt will be stored on the Oasis Pit on the hillside west of Spooner Junction until needed to build the interchange.
To get it there — which means across Carson Street — contractors will use an innovative conveyor system running through a culvert they plan to install under Carson Street and some 2,100 feet up the hill.
The conveyor will move more than 600,000 cubic yards of dirt.
Construction of that culvert is expected to start next month but Lani said most of the work, and traffic restrictions to one lane in each direction, will be at night.
Once in operation, the conveyor won’t interfere with traffic at all.
“If we moved it by truck, traffic would need to be blocked for 75 days,” Lani said.
The project also includes construction of 14,400 feet of sound walls to shield area residents from traffic noise, according to Hellickson.
Along a good share of the route, those sound walls will be built 15 feet from the edge of private property. Lani said that will leave space for “a potential future multi-use path” that could be built by the city.
The project starts Monday with construction of a few final pieces of fence to keep folks out of the right-of-way. Lani said that will include blocking off some of the parking spaces to the west of the Edmonds soccer fields parents have been using.
He said the vast majority of the drainage and sewer work and utilities have been completed along the route.
Hellickson said the project will employ about 45 full-time workers, nearly all skilled heavy equipment operators.
“It’s pretty equipment intensive,” he said.
Road and Highway Builders of Sparks was lowest qualified bidder of six and won the contract for $42.24 million to finish preparing the roadbed and pave the final four miles of the bypass south to the junction of south Carson Street and U.S. 50 up Spooner Grade.
While the project will complete the bypass around downtown Carson City, technically it will not be the final phase of the work. This contract will connect with that junction in an at-grade, signalized intersection. The decision to forego construction of the planned full interchange and build an intersection was made to save more than $20 million, which made construction possible this year instead of two or more years down the road.
Nevada Department of Transportation officials say, however, that interchange will eventually be built when the funding will be available.
With this contract, the total spent on the bypass project has now reached $203.5 million since the first contract was signed in February 2000.
The freeway bypass will handle an estimated 43,000 vehicles a day.