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Blasting scheduled in mountain pass

Pahrump residents who plan on driving into Las Vegas along State Route 160 late Monday morning should expect delays.

The Nevada Department of Transportation will temporarily close State Route 160, in both directions, just west of Williams Ranch Road, in the Mountain Springs area for blasting, from 11:45 a.m. until 1:45 p.m., Jan. 27.

According to Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) Public Information Officer Tony IIlia, the closure is needed for blasting, to remove fractured bedrock as part of a $59 million upgrade project, which entails widening a six-mile stretch of the highway in southwest Clark County.

“Motorists should be prepared for an up to two-hour delay, although it will likely take less time,” IIlia said. “We’ve done several blasts up there, but very few of them have actually required a two-hour cleanup time. It all depends on the blast itself and how long it takes to clean up the mess.”

More blasting is planned to occur later in the week, following the Monday closure.

Illia said a date hadn’t been determined yet for that blast.

Plan B

For those who want to avoid using State Route 160, IIlia offered up a few alternatives.

“The only viable one would be using U.S. 95 to travel into Las Vegas from Pahrump and vice versa,” he noted. “Either that, or cut clean your trip around that blast window, or simply prepare for additional travel time. The same rules apply for medical transports to and from Las Vegas. The closure is for everyone’s safety.”

Additional lanes

The construction calls for expanding the asphalt highway from two to four travel lanes between mile markers 16 and 22, creating a safe passing lane for slower moving traffic while altering the roadway geometry for fewer twists and turns.

Additionally, the work on the project entailed rehabilitating 22 miles of deteriorating roadway from roughly the Nye County line to the Mountain Springs community.

The portion of the project from the Nye County line to Mountain Springs on the highway’s eastbound lanes, is complete, with work continuing in the pass.

A.M. versus P.M.

When asked why crews couldn’t simply perform the blasting after dark when there’s less traffic on the highway, IIlia suggested it would not be a feasible method to perform the work.

“It would be extremely dangerous to try to blast at night,” he said. “It’s in a rural area through Mount Potosi and obviously it gets very dark there. There are also residents living in that area, so that just isn’t a practical, viable option. Crews also had to do some very tough and tricky excavation.”

Illia said, “They try to remove the material using conventional construction machinery whenever possible, but when they encounter tough pockets of fractured bedrock outcroppings that can’t be removed with normal construction machinery, then it’s time to blast. Blasting is really kind of a last resort.”

Blasting information

Illia said the Nevada Department of Transportation uses social media to assist motorists along to their respective destinations.

“NDOT works with Waze to inform the public about planned highway restrictions, but unscheduled construction changes, closures and restrictions are possible due to weather or other factors,” he said. “Motorists should use caution while traveling through the work zone, and heed construction signage.”

The project, which broke ground in the summer of 2018, is on schedule to finish this fall.

Aggregate Industries SWR Inc., out of Las Vegas, is the general contractor.

For the latest state highway conditions, visit nvroads.com or call 511 before traveling to the area.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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