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Blasting begins in mountain pass between Las Vegas, Pahrump

Updated September 26, 2018 - 7:47 am

The first day of blasting along Highway 160 brought about a long line of cars, trucks and commercial vehicles from the western edge of Mountain Springs to well over a mile of vehicles waiting to travel to Las Vegas.

The state highway was closed for roughly 45 minutes while crews blasted in the mountain pass about 1.5 miles east of Mount Potosi Canyon Road to remove fractured bedrock outcroppings as part of a two-year-long widening project currently underway. The highway was shut down about 12:45 p.m. on Monday and reopened close to 1:30 p.m.

A news release from the Nevada Department of Transportation, stated that the highway is scheduled to be closed from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. every other workday until Oct. 15. Blasting started Monday.

Update: The blasting schedule will now be announced via email, Twitter, Facebook and digital signs along Highway 160.The next round of blasting is set to occur between 12:45 p.m. 1:15 p.m. on Sept. 27.

Construction crews stopped traffic on side of the the road that heads from Pahrump to Las Vegas near the Mountain Springs Saloon. Many motorists stayed within their vehicle, though a couple wandered off to speak with members of the construction crew; some even laid back in their seats and propped their feet outside their window.

Officers from the Nevada Highway Patrol made rounds up and down the highway as crews put everything together for blasting efforts.

The delays experienced by motorists on Monday could be average as they said the closure of the highway during blasting could last from 30 minutes up to two hours, “while crews place explosives, check the blast area and clear away any stray rubble and debris.”

Alternative routes are available. One alternative route is to head north on Highway 160 toward U.S. Highway 95, then head south to Las Vegas.

A news release on Monday from NDOT also gave notice that 24-hour bicycle restrictions are in place between mileposts 16 and 22, east of Mount Potosi Canyon Road, for the duration of a widening project currently underway. The nearly $59 million project, which will increase the number of travel lanes from two to four lanes from an area just east of the mountain pass to the western edge of Mountain Springs, is expected to wrap up in August 2020.

“The current and proposed work zone configuration of one lane in each direction, limited shoulder widths, road grade, and differential speeds are not conducive for both bicycles and motor vehicles to share the road,” said NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon.

According to a release from NDOT, “the project calls for installing five miles of raised concrete median barrier, new signage and flattening side slopes for safer turnouts, as well as placing new cattleguards and a wildlife undercrossing near mile marker 18. The Mountain Springs community, meanwhile, will receive new frontage roads, improved intersection lighting and an emergency signal for Clark County Volunteer Fire Station #79.”

A rebuilding and paving project on Highway 160’s eastbound lanes, from the western edge of Mountain Springs to around the Nye County line, is also part of the project, which will be completed segmentally, according to NDOT officials.

The contractor of the project is Aggregate Industries SWR Inc.

For more information about conditions on Nevada’s highways, head to NvRoads.com or call 511. NDOT also uses the Waze app to inform the public about planned highway restrictions. “But unscheduled construction changes, closures and restrictions are possible due to weather or other factors,” NDOT stated in a release.

More blasting planned

Blasting could occur closer to Mountain Springs in the last half of October or possible early November, according to a letter addressed to the Mountain Spring Citizens Advisory Council by Don Christiansen, resident engineer for NDOT.

Notification will be sent to each Mountain Springs resident before any blasting closer to residences would occur.

According to the letter, “blasting will continue for a time into the fall, then there will be a break for a few months. At a future time, to be determined, during 2019, blasting will resume for a couple of months.”

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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