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NDOT to invest $49.5 million in Nye County

The Nevada Department of Transportation is readying for the coming fiscal year and as part of that preparation, representatives have been visiting with local government leadership to outline just what the department has planned for the various cities and counties around the state.

NDOT’s 2023-2024 Annual Work Program is set to include hundreds of millions of dollar worth of road projects all across the Silver State and several will target highways and transportation issues in Nye County. During the Wednesday, Jan. 18 meeting, Nye County commissioners were given an overview of what’s planned for the county.

NDOT Deputy Director Jeff Lerud made the presentation, starting off by explaining that the 2023-2024 Work Program had been crafted with plenty of input from local governmental entities. Workshops were held in early 2022, with Nye County’s taking place January 20 of last year. The suggestions and concerns voiced during those workshops had been used to determine which projects would be pushed forward this year.

“There are 574 miles of state and U.S. highways in Nye County. From July 2021 through May 2022, about $5.17 million in fuel taxes were generated,” Lerud told commissioners that morning. “We have nearly $50 million in investments planned for Nye County so in terms of the ratio to fuel taxes that have been collected, it’s a really good ratio for Nye County.”

Lerud noted that the reason Nye is expecting such a high injection of funds in the next fiscal year is due to the One Nevada process. This is a data-driven approach intended to identify and fund the projects that best achieve NDOT and its partner agencies’ goals, Lerud explained, with focus on six factors. These include enhancing safety, optimizing mobility, preserving infrastructure, transforming economies, connecting communities and fostering sustainability. The One Nevada process is used to track and analyze the requests of local governmental entities, such as Nye County.

“Where other counties looking from the outside in might say, ‘Hey, Nye County only generated $5 million in fuel taxes but they are getting $50 million in investment, why aren’t we getting more?’ This data-driven process helps us justify those needs,” Lerud stated.

Over the past year, Lerud said NDOT has been assisting with the repairs necessitated by the town-wide flooding experienced during a fierce storm in July 2021. The department has been removing trash from along the highways, too, with a total of 1,642 man hours dedicated to cleaning up 1,140 cubic yards of roadside debris.

There are also two studies underway that impact Nye County, including one centered on the Johnny Curve and another for the Highway 160 and Highway 159 corridor, known as the Red Rock and Blue Diamond corridor.

Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone jumped in to ask about the caution arrows indicating the upcoming Johnny Curve on Highway 160, which had at one time included blinking lights. Part of the system was damaged however. Lerud said that was in fact part of the study, determining whether those lights could be fixed or if a new solution could be found.

Lerud went on to explain that NDOT was also conducting a statewide study on passing and climbing lanes, a draft recommendation for which should be released later this year.

As for the coming year, Lerud highlighted five specific areas that would be addressed locally. NDOT is planning to undertake the U.S. 95 Tonopah Downtown Pavement Preservation project, to include upgraded drainage facilities, perform work on Highway 160 for safety and ADA purposes, address Highway 367 and assist with local transit through the NyE Communities Coalition, Senior Nutrition Program and Pahrump Valley Public Transportation.

The next step for NDOT, he detailed, would be the implementing its Annual Work Program while also initiating the next round of workshops to begin the engagement and collaboration process once again. The next workshop NDOT will hold with Nye County officials will take place this spring.

Nye County Commissioner Donna Cox noted the public concern about wild horses and burros that wander on and around the highways.

“I suppose you are aware we have a lot of horses and burros on Highway 160 and I think we need some sort of improvement to help us with those, because they cross the highway a lot and they have been getting hit,” Cox remarked.

She recommended that NDOT increase the number of flashing “burro” signs along the highway or perhaps even reinstall fencing to keep the animals off the road. Cox said she did not want to see the horses and burros removed from the area.

“We don’t have to take them to slaughter or anything like that because the residents would come unglued,” Cox stressed. “We just need a happy medium.”

Another representative with NDOT interjected to explain that fencing lining the highway is difficult to keep in place because it can be wiped out by heavy rains. However, he assured that NDOT would be more than willing to work with Nye County staff to identify strategic spots to prioritize for additional safety measures in the future.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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