Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 | 2:20 p.m.
Gov. Jim Gibbons was in North Las Vegas today to celebrate a rare achievement for government: a major project that was done within budget and months early.
Gibbons joined other elected leaders in officially opening the newly improved section of Interstate 15 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Craig Road.
The $242 million project, which was scheduled to be finished in the fall this year, was essentially finished last month.
The project means more lanes, smoother surfaces and improved ramps for the 170,000 vehicles that use the 5.5-mile stretch of roadway each day.
Jacob Snow, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission, had high praise for the project.
“The words progressive and brilliant are not often enough applied to government,” he said. “Those are two words that apply today to this project.”
Gibbons said road projects are part of helping the state to recover from economic turbulence.
“This is an unprecedented economic time for the state, but with each project that we begin under the design-build (system) we move Nevada closer and closer to a recovery, and each mile paved makes the quality of life and that recovery just that much better for all of us,” he said. “We are paving our way to the road of recovery for the state of Nevada with this.”
The project was the first time the Nevada Department of Transportation used a design-build system. Instead of designing the roadway, then putting it out to bid and building the project -- as is normally done -- the design-build system speeds up the project by overlapping the two phases.
NDOT director Susan Martinovich said the design-build process helped to complete this project early and the department hopes to use it again.
“We intend to use it far more often because we have been very successful in this type of project,” she said. “I know without a doubt that the public got a project that was worth every dollar that was put into it.”
State law prohibits the department from doing more than one design-build project a year. NDOT hopes to get the Legislature to change that, Martinovich said, but that doesn’t mean the process will work for every project.
“It’s a great tool and we’ve been successful, so when it’s going to work we want to use it,” she said.
While the department took a risk in using the design-build system, Martinovich said it transferred some of the financial risks to contractors and helped to keep the project within budget.
Work on I-15 north of the Spaghetti Bowl is finished except for some final paving that has to wait for warmer weather. Motorists will see construction shift to the south as work begins on the next design-build project, this time on I-15 from Russell Road to the Silverado Ranch Boulevard interchange.
That project officially begins Feb. 17, but crews have begun putting up signs and construction barrels in the area.