Las Vegas Sun

July 7, 2015

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Nevada highways need nearly $2 billion worth of repairs, report says

More than 22 percent of Nevada's highways are in poor condition and those in Las Vegas and Reno are congested.

But 22.5 percent of the roads are in excellent condition and the bridges in Nevada are tops in the nation.

These statistics were included in the Preservation of Highway Report presented to the state Board of Transportation Monday, and some members were not happy.

Tom Fransway of Winnemucca called the statistics "vague" and said the report needs to be revised before it is presented to the Legislature. Although this report has been required to be delivered previously to the Legislature, this is the first time it has been presented to the board that oversees the highway system.

Board Chairman Gov. Brian Sandoval said the view presented by Transportation Assistant Director Bill Hoffman suggests the state is doing a pretty good job but the figures don't reflect that.

Hoffman told the board 4,664 lane miles of the 13,000 miles need to be restored. He said that would take $1.9 billion.

The department does not have any plans to ask the Legislature for more money.

Hoffman said, however, that Nevada roads were safe and that "we are not falling off the cliff."

It would take an extra $285 million annually over the next 12 years to restore the roads.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said it looks like Nevada is going backward in road preservation in the next decade.

"It's not an attractive picture," said Krolicki. "We are going to throw this in the lap of the Legislature and they are not going to be pleased."

"We're giving them a problem but not a remedy," he said. And he questioned how the department would come up with the $285 million a year.

Hoffman said the department has a goal of cutting back its budget by 5 percent and it could also pick up federal highway funds not used by other states.

The report said the increasing backlog of roads that need repair "is primarily due to highway construction inflation not being matched by revenue increases from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees over the years."

The report says $233.8 million is needed for maintenance on the interstate highways, mostly in the Las Vegas and Reno areas. Contributing factors include a growing population and more miles traveled on the highways.

And Hoffman said there is an increased number of trucks that contributes to the damage of the highways.

Hoffman told the board, "Do we keep the roads safe? Yes."

And there are needs to relieve congestion on the freeways. In 2011-12, the department spent $544 million on preservation projects, half of which came from the federal government.

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