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Governor asks officials to support self-driving cars

Google Self-Driving Cars Accident Reports

Eric Risberg / AP

This May 13, 2014, file photo shows a Google self-driving Lexus at a Google event outside the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

Updated Monday, June 8, 2015 | 3:01 p.m.

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval said Monday he wants state transportation officials to consider adding support for self-driving cars as part of a multimillion-dollar highway widening and expansion project in Las Vegas.

The Republican governor, who referenced a self-driving semitruck that Daimler Trucks unveiled last month, said he wants Nevada to be at the forefront of the emerging self-driving vehicle industry.

"No one would have ever imagined this iPhone a few years ago, and I feel the same way about these autonomous vehicles," Sandoval said.

He also said he wants Nevada to host a conference centered on self-driving car manufacturers by the end of the year.

Tom Skancke, a member of the state Department of Transportation's board of directors, supported the idea and said it could help foster an emerging technology industry in Nevada.

"We could become the pilot as opposed to San Diego or Orange County, who always gets the first bite of the apple," he said.

Board members were updated on Project Neon, a multiyear project to widen and improve a 3.7-mile stretch of Interstate 15 between Sahara Avenue and the Spaghetti Bowl connection with U.S. 95 near downtown Las Vegas.

Transportation officials said that the project is six to eight months from beginning initial construction, and the state has spent more than $102 million in acquiring land to expand the highway.

Project Manager Cole Mortensen said the job is within budget and on schedule.

The department will select a contractor in September to design and build the project. The estimated building cost is $550 million to $575 million. The project is scheduled for completion in 2019.

Demolition of some structures has already started to clear the way for construction.

The Department of Transportation plans to hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. Wednesday at 401 South Fourth St. in Las Vegas to update the public on the project and answer questions.

Las Vegas Sun reporter Cy Ryan contributed to this report.

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