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NDOT decides how to spend $105 million in Elko County

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Electric vehicle charging stations

Upgrades of electric vehicle charging stations at Carlin and Wells are planned next year as part of the Nevada Department of Transportation's $105 million in projects for Elko County.

ELKO – Nevada Department of Transportation is allocating $105 million for work projects in Elko County in 2023-2024 ranging from pavement preservation to charging stations for electric vehicles, while roundabout construction in Spring Creek will come later.

NDOT’s deputy director, Cole Mortensen, presented the list of work projects to Elko County Commissioners that includes the roundabout at Spring Creek High School, but NDOT doesn’t expect to go out to bid for that project until late 2024 or in 2025.

“We have to acquire rights of way and do the design,” NDOT District 3 Engineer Sami Yousuf said.

The roundabout will be at Lamoille Highway and Boyd-Kennedy Road and cost between $7.9 million and $9.5 million, according to a September article in the Elko Daily Free Press, which reported it will be larger than the 12-year-old roundabout at Lamoille Highway and Licht Parkway.

Regarding other priorities, Commissioner Cliff Eklund said he will ask that a proposal for improvements to a frontage road along Interstate 80 at Carlin be on the county’s December agenda because the current road is “deteriorated” and there are five businesses on the road with possible expansions. He also said “big, wide heavy loads” use the road from the west Carlin exit to about halfway to the east exit.

He also said in early November that the Carlin City Council was writing a letter to NDOT about the frontage road.

Elko County Commissioner Wilde Brough said U.S. 93 still needs more passing lanes and warned that traffic will grow on the highway due to a new meat packing plant in Jerome, Idaho.

Mortensen said “we do have two more phases of climbing and passing lanes anticipated for U.S. 93.” The planned phases need rights of ways and environmental clearances for actual construction, he said.

A study of passing and climbing lanes throughout the state is under way that looks at safety concerns and accident rates, and U.S. 93 “is one of the priority routes,” Yousuf said.

County Commission Chairman Delmo Andreozzi said he understands that funding is limited for highway projects, but people’s concerns about state roads “come to us,” citing as an example the U.S. 93 passing lanes that “historically, have been super important to Elko County.”

Planned projects

The project list for the coming year includes: pavement preservation and maintenance work on Interstate 80 within the county; pavement preservation on Newmont Mine Road (SR 766); sidewalk construction in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act on U.S. 93 and State Route 223 in Wells; bridge replacements on Mountain City Highway (SR 225) and on SR 230, which serves the Deeth area; a drainage project on the Carlin-Eureka highway (SR 278); and pavement preservation of Frontage Road 49 over Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

The paving on I-80 will be near West Wendover and in the Carlin area.

Charging station projects are planned for Carlin and Wells.

The list for the $105 million work program also mentions transit vehicles, equipment, hardware and facility renovation.

“It’s a good year for Elko County,” Mortensen said, explaining that NDOT must prioritize projects on a statewide basis and redistribute revenue from the larger counties like Clark to cover rural work.

“We always want to look at anything requested. The challenge is that we have limited resources,” Yousuf said in a phone interview.

NDOT also reported that current projects or recently completed projects in the county were pavement improvements (mainly chip seal) on Chestnut Street (SR 221) in Carlin, Mountain City Highway, SR 230, and U.S. Highway 93, as wells as fencing replacement along I-80 in Elko.

Mortensen said NDOT began developing a new guidance for the rural engagement process this year, structured to be a continuing, collaborative effort to improve coordination between NDOT and rural cities and counties for transportation planning.

Planning process

The engagement process is called the One Nevada Process.

NDOT also offers help with development of local safety plans, including grants, according to a slide that showed that in 2020 there were 677 vehicle crashes in Elko County, including 11 fatalities and 172 injuries.

Elko County has 714 miles of state and federal highways. The latest figure available for gas and diesel taxes collected in the county is $5.5 million for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, Mortensen said in his slide presentation.

He additionally said NDOT received funding from the federal infrastructure bill but part of that is being “soaked up” by inflationary costs for NDOT projects. In addition to fuel tax revenue, NDOT receives other state revenue and money from the Federal Highway Commission.

Commissioners have traditionally been asked to prioritize NDOT projects in the county, but the project list is already formulated based on funding availability and on the rural engagement process earlier this year that commissioners missed.

Elko County Manager Amanda Osborne said NDOT notified her of the NDOT workshop but she didn’t realize commissioners weren’t told about the February meeting. She said she would work with Colleen Unterbrink, NDOT’s rural coordinator, to be sure everyone knows about the next workshop. According to the presentation, that will be next spring.

Unterbrink said in the NDOT presentation that invitations were sent out to managers at the city and county level, public works departments, first responders, engineers and elected officials.

Andreozzi said it is important that elected officials take part in talks about highway projects, and “historically, we’ve had a great relationship with District 3 here.”

NDOT District III Engineer Boyd Ratliff describes challenges of funding, executing completion of passing lanes on U.S. Highway 93, in this video from February 2021.

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