Contract OK’d for anti-icing on Carson-Reno freeway

Wheel tracks on the winter road covered with snow.

Wheel tracks on the winter road covered with snow.

After assurances the system was working, the state Transportation Board has approved a $500,000 contract for a company to use its anti-icing system to prevent accidents during the winter months on the freeway between Reno and Carson City.

The board also on Monday received a preliminary work program for $1.9 billion for highways and other improvement for fiscal year 2019 but a final document won’t be approved until September.

Boschung America, based in Pennsylvania, has been using the spray system for four years. But the Transportation Board at its last meeting questioned if it was effective and should the contract be continued.

Thor Dyson, assistant director for operations for the transportation department, said there hasn’t been any fatalities on the I-580 stretch during the winter months. The spray of potassium acetate is put on the highway at four locations when there’s water on the road that may freeze.

It’s applied ahead of the snow automatically.

Dyson said it’s effective 75-80 percent of the time. The board delayed approval of the contract last month because there was no data on how it worked.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said this system “could mean the difference between life and death” and this area has been subjected to some violent storms. But some of the past winters have been relatively dry.

Joe Spencer, manager of program development, briefed the board on the proposed construction schedule for 2019 and said the department is still taking public comments.

Of the $1.9 billion, there are 13 projects scheduled for Carson City. They include $17.2 million for improvements to Carson Street and $2.7 million to support the city bus service around the city called Jump Around Carson.

There’s also more than $2 million for purchase and maintenance of the vehicle. Also on the tentative schedule is $572,583 for reconstruction of Fairview Drive and $670,000 for bicycle and pedestrian work from Linear Ditch to Colorado Street.

Spencer said these improvements will be presented to the board in September after the public comment period ends Aug. 30.

The board also approved a $61.5 million contract to Las Vegas Paving Corp. for flyovers and other work on the U.S. 95 Northwest Corridor in Clark County. The state had originally estimated the project to cost $49.1 million. Cole Mortenson, assistant director for engineering, told the board the cost of concrete and steel has risen dramatically since the original estimate.

Las Vegas Paving was the only bidder. The cost of steel alone has risen 11 cents a pound since the original estimate.

Rudy Malfabon said the extra money used for this job won’t mean other projects will be scrapped. “The state highway fund is healthy,” he said.

He also said a transportation bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives to raise the tax on a gallon of gasoline 15 cents over the next three years. The proposal was written by Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Shuster, R-Pennsylvania, isn’t running for re-election and the director said Congress wouldn’t consider the proposal this session but may take it up in the future.

Malfabon said it has been a “long time” since the federal government has increased the gas tax. The proposal would raise the diesel tax by 20 cents a gallon over the three-year period.

The federal gasoline tax is now 18.4 cents a gallon. The state tax is also 18.4 cents but there’s a mandatory 6.34 cents a gallon in the counties. And counties have the option of raising the tax further.


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