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October 24, 2014

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Bigger share of state highway money headed to Southern Nevada

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Nevada Department of Transportation

This artist’s rendering shows what the redesigned interchange of Boulder City Bypass and U.S. 93 would look like at Railroad Pass. Railroad Pass Casino is at left. If U.S. 93 is designated an interstate between Las Vegas and Phoenix, the bypass route would become part of the interstate, officials say.

Boulder City Bypass

This Nevada Department of Transportation map shows what Phase 1 of the Boulder City Bypass would look like with the redesign. It would be upgraded to an interstate-quality interchange. The current U.S. 93 in front of Railroad Pass would become a frontage road, NDOT officials say. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Clark County has been shortchanged in the past in road building and repair money but it will get a bigger chunk of the pie this year.

The state Transportation Department presented a breakdown Monday showing that $344.6 million or 65.8 percent of the money available in fiscal year 2014 is programmed for Southern Nevada.

“We’re investing a significant amount of revenue in Clark,” said Transportation Director Rudy Malfadon in a report to the state Transportation Board.

He said a big share will go to the Boulder City bypass, the widening of U.S. 95, and Project Neon, which will widen Interstate 15 from Sahara Avenue to the Spaghetti Bowl and make major changes to the arterial streets in the area.

Southern Nevada lawmakers complained during the legislative session that Clark County generated the majority of the gasoline tax revenue but didn’t receive its fair share in return.

Lawmakers introduced a bill to change the composition of the Transportation Board to include more representation from Clark County. But the threat of a veto by Gov. Brian Sandoval prompted the rewrite of the bill to add another member from Southern Nevada — who will be appointed by Sandoval.

The current board is made up of the governor who is chairman, the lieutenant governor, controller and attorney general, plus one representative each from Clark and Washoe counties and one representative from rural Nevada. The new law adding the second representative from Clark County takes effect in January.

The $344.6 million in road money headed to Clark County next year does not include a proposed $100 million bond issue to be used to acquire right-of-way for the $1 billion Project Neon. The board was told that 71 percent of the needed property has been acquired from owners.

Malfadon said he was aware of the complaints of past inequities in the distribution of the money but said “the Nevada Department is not holding back on funding to Southern Nevada.”

The report shows that for fiscal 2013 Clark County received $131.1 or 51.9 percent of available money. Washoe County received 4.5 percent and the remaining 43.6 percent was spent in rural Nevada. A good share of the money was spent on interstate highways to connect the long distances between cities.

Sandoval said the rural counties can’t generate enough revenue to pay for the upkeep and construction of interstate highways.

“Clark County has subsidized them,” Sandoval said.

The report showed that from fiscal years 2008-12, Clark County contributed 60.4 percent of the gasoline tax used by the department to build roads but only 55.1 percent was used for Southern Nevada projects.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said he was “frustrated by the north-south tension” but added the construction projects were based on need.

In November, the board will receive for final approval a list of planned construction projects for fiscal 2014.

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