Las Vegas Sun

July 21, 2017

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Bighorn sheep concerns may add to cost of building bypass

Concerns about the migration of bighorn sheep have stalled efforts to build the so-called Boulder City bypass.

Boulder City's lobbyist on the matter, former Sen. Richard Bryan, told the City Council on Tuesday that a Environmental Protection Agency official said the bypass should include several bridges so that the highway won't interfere with the migration of the bighorn sheep or create runoff problems.

Bryan said the recommended bridges would add $27 million to the cost of the bypass, which Boulder City Mayor Bob Ferraro said is expected to cost around $240 million.

The proposed bypass would connect the highway west of Railroad Pass to the highway east of the city by going south of Boulder City.

Bryan said state transportation officials disagree with the need for the additional bridges. However, he said, the EPA official's suggestion could affect the bypass because there is a chance the EPA would have to sign off on one of the permits for the project.

A decision on the need for additional bridges could come within the next few months, Bryan said.

He said the project is still "on track. It's just that we have some obstacles to clear."

Bryan and Ferraro said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised to secure funding for the project, which would be built in phases.

Some council members expressed concern Tuesday that without the bypass the city will see a dramatic increase in truck traffic through town after a new bridge being built just south of Hoover Dam is completed.

The new bridge, expected to open in 2007, will provide traffic a way to avoid the steep and winding road around the Hoover Dam and still cross the Colorado River.