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Completion of I-15 paving project eases commute, improves ride


Steve Marcus

A sealing crew inspects a section of roadway during resurfacing of Interstate 15 between Tropicana Avenue and Charleston Boulevard on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011.

Completion of I-15 paving project eases commute, improves ride

A month-long repaving project on Interstate 15 has ended, reducing congestion and providing drivers a quieter, smoother ride.

Interstate 15 Resurfacing

Higinio Arrenondo and Patrice Whitlaw prepare a section of road for a patch during resurfacing of Interstate 15 between Tropicana Avenue and Charleston Boulevard on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Making Rubberized Asphalt

Tommy Fisher, of Fisher Sand & Gravel, holds a handful of gravel at the Sloan Quarry Wednesday, September 14, 2011.  Fisher mixes crumb rubber from old tires with oil and rock to make the rubberized asphalt that is being used in the repaving of Interstate 15. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas motorists can rejoice: The repaving work on Interstate 15 is essentially done.

Just a month after the work began creating massive traffic jams and turned the state’s busiest freeway into a sea of red lights, the orange barrels are out of the way and motorists now have a smoother, quieter ride through town.

The paving was finished before 4 a.m. today, crews began removing the barrels at 5 a.m. and all lanes of the freeway were open well before the Monday commute, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Workers laid about 10,000 tons of rubberized asphalt during a final marathon session over the weekend. In all, about 25,000 tons of asphalt was used to cover the old concrete surface of I-15 between Tropicana Avenue and the Spaghetti Bowl.

The weekend work got the $6 million project done 10 days early. Work initially began Sept. 6, with major lane closures starting Sept. 11.

But the major paving work didn’t get under way until Sept. 19, partially because of a cluster of rainstorms, which continued on and off over the next month.

Tommy Fisher, president of the contractor Fisher Sand & Gravel, said crews lost about five days of work because of rain, making the 10-day-early finish even more impressive.

“You can’t mess with Mother Nature, but we planned really hard and I want to commend our guys who worked a lot of extra hours,” he said.

Fisher said his company brought in extra crews and the subcontractors put in overtime while the Transportation Department helped coordinate the schedule and supervise the work.

“Everybody worked together as a team, from all our subcontractors and us and NDOT, to come up with the plan to marathon pave,” he said. “I know there was a small amount of inconvenience over the weekend, but the traveling public of Clark County and the tourists who come to visit will really enjoy the ride.”

Transportation Department spokeswoman Michelle Booth said officials are happy with the finished road and, other than motorists stuck in traffic over the weekend, there were no major complaints.

The 1-inch layer of asphalt used on the road has rubber from old tires mixed in. It’s expected to last longer than traditional asphalt, plus it was faster and cheaper than completely replacing the old concrete road.

The crumb rubber asphalt also provides a quieter ride, better drainage when wet and a darker surface to make lane markings more visible.

Crews will return to the road later this month to put a final layer of paint on some of the lane markings, but that work shouldn’t create problems for motorists, according to Joe Miller, Fisher’s area manager.

Work is still continuing on the separate I-15 Design-Build South Project between Silverado Ranch Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. Before that project is done next year, it will also get a layer of the rubberized asphalt, but with Las Vegas Paving doing the work.

Fisher said he hopes Las Vegans like the road and “enjoy their commute for a change.” But he also hopes the successfully completed project will help his company’s image.

Fisher was involved in a messy and public battle for about two years over a project to widen part of the Las Vegas Beltway for Clark County.

In 2009, Fisher submitted the lowest bid for the project but county commissioners awarded the contract to Las Vegas Paving, saying Fisher’s bid was not responsible.

Fisher sued the county, and a judge ordered the contract be awarded to Fisher. After two years of fighting, Fisher, Las Vegas Paving and the county agreed on a settlement in June, giving Fisher about $5 million, but leaving Las Vegas Paving in control of the project.

The legal battle was damaging to Fisher Sand & Gravel, with county commissioners airing the company’s dirty laundry as they sought to award the project to Las Vegas Paving.

“I hope in the end people can see Fisher Sand & Gravel as a contractor working with the state and the subs … to turn a job really quick,” Fisher said.

Fisher’s crews will shift their attention to Boulder City, where work is under way to widen U.S. 93 at a bottleneck that slows traffic on the main route between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Paving on the project is set to begin Tuesday.

The $15.9 million project is a temporary, emergency fix for traffic woes that came after the Hoover Dam bypass bridge opened last fall.

That project has also been fast-tracked, with work that began Aug. 23 expected to be complete before Thanksgiving.

“We’re going to work hard and try and hit that deadline, too,” Fisher said.

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