Las Vegas Sun

September 30, 2014

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Federal funding questions prompts delay of Project Neon decision

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COLAB Las Vegas

A rendering of the Project Neon Downtown Gateway.

CARSON CITY – The state Transportation Board on Monday delayed a decision at least until August on going forward with the $1 billion Project Neon to expand Interstate 15 in Las Vegas.

The board wanted more information from its bond counsel and other data on the proposed project, which would be the biggest ever undertaken by the state Transportation Department.

Preliminary approval was given earlier this year to allow a private company to finance, design, build and maintain the 3.7-mile project. But the board also wants to see what federal funds may be available. Selection of the firm won’t be made until next year.

The board met for 25 minutes in a closed-door session with private attorney Laura Fitzsimmons. Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said the meeting was to discuss legal strategy for acquiring property to widen I-15.

The department hired Fitzsimmons to handle negotiation and condemnation issues for both Project Neon and the Boulder City bypass.

State Transportation director Rudy Malfabon told the board the federal highway funding bill still was stuck in Congress. Lacking congressional action, the fund will run of money in September to finance new projects.

Fitzsimmons predicted Congress would pass an interim measure to continue transportation funding to states and local governments.

Nobody in Congress wants to raise the federal 18.4 cents-a-gallon gasoline tax, he told reporters. So a final solution on providing money to the states for building roads won’t be made until next year.

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