Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Work on Nevada side of dam bypass to begin

Major construction including earth-moving and blasting for the Nevada side of the $234 million Hoover Dam Bypass will begin sometime in the next two weeks, the Federal Highway Administration manager of the project said Friday.

Survey work and staking out the route of the new four-lane highway that will connect U.S. 93 to a new bridge south of the dam began about 10 days ago, project manager Dave Zanetell said.

"It's rolling on," Zanetell said. "The more visible heavy construction will begin next week or so."

The new 3 1/2 miles of U.S. 93 that includes new pieces of highway in Arizona, a new bridge and 2.2 miles of new highway in Nevada is scheduled to be open to traffic by the end of 2007. The new road is intended to give traffic, especially truck traffic, a better and safer way across the Colorado River than the current route over Hoover Dam.

Boulder City Mayor Bob Ferraro said the bypass will benefit his city because it will relieve traffic congestion at the dam.

"The traffic backs up into Boulder City, sometimes all the way to the second stoplight," Ferraro said.

Between 13,000 and 15,000 vehicles cross the dam each day, with traffic and congestion heaviest during the summer. The twisting two-lane road that leads to and over Hoover Dam is "extremely substandard," Zanetell said.

"Now we have an unsafe mix of pedestrians, tourists and through traffic," he said.

The bypass will be a four-lane highway that should take all but the tourist traffic away from the dam, he said.

Zanetell said on the road the bypass will allow traffic to avoid, the accident rate is three times higher than it is on the surrounding parts of the highway.

Zanetell said the blasting that will be done in conjunction with the highway project should not be noticeable to Boulder City residents or people at the dam.

Edward Kraemer & Sons is the general contractor on the Nevada side of the highway project, which will cost about $30 million and should be done in about two years.

Work on the Arizona part of the project began in February and should be done around September, Zanetell said.

But while the dam bypass project is moving along, movement on the Boulder City Bypass appears at a standstill for now.

The city bypass would connect U.S. 93 near Railroad Pass west of the city to the highway near the Hacienda casino with a new highway that would go south of all Boulder City residents.

The mayor said now they are waiting for a final environmental impact study of the road to be released. Then, officials would have to find the money.

"The money is the big issue," said Ferraro, who said the city bypass could cost about $200 million.

The city bypass would also be aimed at moving truck traffic to another route.

Ferraro said that while some people worry the city bypass could take tourist traffic out of downtown Boulder City, he said anyone going to Lake Mead or the dam would probably still use the existing route.