Las Vegas Sun

March 2, 2015

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Transportation Board questions $2.8 million for consultants on highway project

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Transportation Board isn’t happy about spending $2.8 million for out-of-state legal and financial consultants for the giant Neon project to expand Interstate 15 along the Las Vegas Strip.

Transportation Director Rudy Malfabon told the board “there’s been a lot of concern” that local consultants were not hired to get the project ready to bid next year. But, he said, local financial and legal firms did not have the expertise to put together the project.

The department has hired the legal firm of Nossaman LLC for $1.4 million and Ernst and Young for $1.39 million as the financial consultants to chart the way for the $1.2 billion project. This will be the largest public-private partnership ever in constructing a highway in Nevada.

Gov. Brian Sandoval questioned whether the state would be paying $500 an hour while an attorney is flying to Nevada. The range for the legal contract is $450 to $600 an hour.

Sandoval also expressed concerns that there would be amendments, particularly on the legal contract, to increase the amount paid by the state.

“We have seen this happen with very expensive amendments,” he said.

Assistant Transportation Director Scott Sisco said expenses “will be watched very closely.”

Malfabon said there will be some trips by the lawyers to Nevada, but other sessions will be conducted by telephone or video conference.

The project, a 3.7 mile section of I-15 from south of Sahara Avenue to the Spaghetti Bowl, is expected to go out to bid by February. The department is looking for a firm to help finance and build the expanded highway.

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