Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Development:

Interstate-widening Project Neon attracts international bidders

Three of four financing, design proposals include companies from outside the U.S.

Image

Justin M. Bowen

Project Neon will widen Interstate 15 between the Spaghetti Bowl and Sahara Avenue and will add a new ramp to connect the U.S. 95 HOV lanes with the I-15 express lanes.

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Project Neon, which will make improvements to Interstate 15, is drawing international interest.

The Nevada Transportation Board is reviewing four proposals — three involving firms headquartered outside of the U.S. — for financing, designing, building and maintaining the 3.7-mile project.

Cole Mortensen, Nevada Department of Transportation project manager, told the Transportation Board on Monday that 71 percent of the land required for the project has been acquired.

The contractor for the $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion project will be selected next year. According to the NDOT, Project Neon is the largest job ever undertaken by the department.

Cintra Infraestructuras, S.A., headquartered in Madrid, has submitted a proposal, saying it has developed and managed transportation projects in Canada, European countries and the United States.

Las Vegas Paving Corp. has joined with Macquarie Capital Group of New York to vie for the contract. Macquarie, according to its website, provides advisory, investment and fund management services from more than 70 offices in 28 countries and has more than 13,600 employees.

A joint proposal has also been received from Kiewit Development Co. of Omaha, Neb., and Meridiam Infrastructure Neon, whose headquarters is in Luxembourg. Kiewit says it is one of the largest contractors in the world and its recent projects include bridge retrofitting in the San Francisco Bay Area, the interstate in Hawaii and the world’s largest geodesic dome at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Meridiam says its investments are in Europe and North America and it focuses on public-private ventures.

Three companies are joining to submit the fourth bid. ACS Infrastructure Development of Coral Gables, Fla., says it has been involved in design, construction and maintenance of a number of transportation projects. Fengate Capital Management of Toronto is a management investment firm specializing in transportation projects. And Star America Fund GP of New York provides unique investment strategies.

The timetable calls for evaluations of the bids to be completed next year and the transportation board to award the contract by November. Design and construction would start in 2015, with completion in 2019.

The next step, Mortensen said, is seeking approval from the Legislative Interim Finance Committee for issuance of a $100 million bond to pay off property owners whose land is being acquired.

According to the transportation department, nearly 250,000 vehicles a day use the 3.7-mile stretch. Some of the major features of Project Neon call for building a 1-mile high-occupancy vehicle bridge connecting I-15 to U.S. 95, creating a new interchange and reconstructing the Charleston/I-15 interchange.

When completed, the project will provide better access to downtown Las Vegas and to the north end of the Strip, according to the transportation department.

The department plans to issue bonds later to pay off the contractor as the project progresses.

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