Las Vegas Sun

July 17, 2019

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Gravel road leads to lawsuit against city

Moving to keep gravel trucks going round-the-clock through a northwest Las Vegas neighborhood, an alliance of concrete firms, construction companies and unions has sued the city over an ordinance restricting travel to business hours.

The 20-page lawsuit, filed Tuesday in District Court, comes in response to a City Council vote April 17 that restricted the trucks from operating between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. on Alexander Road, the officially designated haul route from gravel pits at the western end of Lone Mountain Road.

The council acted after constant neighborhood complaints about the noise and speed of the trucks, and after a city survey during a 24-hour period in March showed 99 of 1,179 trucks traveled the route between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Mark Albright, an attorney for Nevada Ready Mix, one of the primary users of the gravel haul route, said the lawsuit was necessary to keep the company from defaulting on its contracts.

"The issue is whether or not the ability of some neighbors to sleep at night outweighs the construction projects pending throughout the valley, particularly when we built the road," he said.

"The impact of such an ordinance is devastating to the construction industry in Las Vegas," Albright added, noting that 35 percent of the trips are made at night and in the early morning. "Thousands of workers would be shut down (during morning delays) at highway, airport, hotel and other projects."

But neighbors and City Councilman Matthew Callister -- who represents the area -- said the regulation is reasonable.

"By limiting these hours, if these people are able to get a good night's sleep, it's great," said Robin Smith, a neighborhood activist who has fought the gravel trucks for 18 months. "Let them (concrete firms) spend their time and efforts and their money doing something that helps the people."

Callister, who was too ill Tuesday to speak with a reporter, said through a spokeswoman that the rule was carefully considered.

"This regulatory action was not done quickly or thoughtlessly," his statement read. "Rather, it was the result of two years of attempts to resolve the problem of more than 1,000 trucks a day driving through people's neighborhoods."

In the lawsuit, filed by Nevada Ready Mix, Lone Mountain Gravel, Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council, Las Vegas Paving Corp. and Southern Nevada Paving, attorneys contend that:

* Nevada Ready Mix built the road before any homes were in the area.

* Under a maintenance agreement with Clark County, Nevada Ready Mix has permission to use the gravel haul route until at least May 23, 1997, and the permission will continue as long as gravel trucks are the main users of the road.

* Homeowners along Alexander were told the road was a gravel route before they purchased their homes, "and should not now be heard to complain regarding a condition of which they were fully apprised."

However, Callister has said real estate agents told homeowners the initial use permit for the route would expire in October 1995, and didn't mention that it could be extended.

* Neither the city nor Clark County has built an alternative roadway -- such as a frontage road along Centennial Parkway that would be a precursor to the Las Vegas Beltway -- to allow company trucks to reach the freeway without passing homes.

In fact, attorneys accused Callister in the lawsuit of using the travel restrictions as a political ploy. "The true motivation behind the city's resolution was to attempt to force Clark County to reallocate available highway funds away from the southern beltway to the northwest beltway alignment for use as an alternative truck haul route and to decrease traffic in the northwest portion of the city."

* Nevada Ready Mix can't meet its contracts without running trucks at all hours, and couldn't do it even if it bought more trucks to run during the hours allowed under the city's ordinance.

The suit, assigned to District Judge Joseph Pavlikowski, asks for a temporary injunction preventing the city from enforcing the rule while lawyers prepare for a court hearing, and then a permanent injunction, which would keep the city from ever enforcing the rule.

Although the ordinance went into effect Sunday, it cannot be enforced until signs announcing the new hours are posted. City Public Works Director Richard Goecke said he is consulting with the city attorney's office on whether the signs will be erected.

SUN ASSISTANT City Editor David Clayton contributed to this story.