Construction company under gun to finish I-80 work quickly |

Construction company under gun to finish I-80 work quickly

Rob Sabo

Commuting through Reno on Interstate 80 soon will get a little slower but Granite Construction is under the gun to keep traffic moving.

Granite will begin work late this month on a major reconstruction project that will narrow Interstate 80 from three to two lanes in each direction for the duration of the summer and fall months.

The scope of the $72 million design-build project:

* Reconstruct I-80 from Keystone Avenue to Fourth Street.

* Widen I-80 from four to six lanes from East McCarran to Vista Boulevard.

* Install fiber-optic lines and hardware for a permanent traffic monitoring system.

* Update and upgrade all roadway signage.

* Upgrade the eastbound off-ramp at Sparks Boulevard to three turn lanes, and install a new westbound on-ramp.

Included in the project is $5.2 million for landscaping improvements. Granite receives its notice to proceed on May 16 and expects to begin working immediately.

In order to complete road work on westbound I-80, Granite will tear out the concrete median dividing the highway and shift all traffic on the eastbound lane, which will be reconfigured to two lanes of travel in each direction. The company expects to complete work on the westbound lane sometime in November.

Granite will do the same process in reverse for reconstructing the eastbound lane during the 2012 construction season. Motorists will enjoy a three-by-three lane configuration this winter, when workers cannot effectively perform grading work due to wet weather.

“The plan is to get the westbound completed this season, which is why we are pushing hard to get started early,” says Jason Brada, large project manager for Granite Construction. “We want to minimize the impacts to the public, to the businesses, and to the people that have to commute through this thing on a daily basis.”

NDOT received bids from four companies for the design-build job: Las Vegas Paving, Kiewet Corporation, Road and Highway Builders and Granite Construction.

The biggest challenge for Granite and engineering firm Atkins North America (formerly PBS&J) is keeping traffic moving, says Scott Magruder, public information office for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

About 110,000 vehicles use both lanes on a daily basis, and Granite, NDOT and Atkins are refining a comprehensive traffic control and monitoring system designed to help NDOT monitor traffic flow and also help motorists plan their drives accordingly. The ITS, or Intelligent Transportation System, will tie into NDOT’s central traffic monitoring station and includes CCTV cameras and real-time traffic alerts.

“You can go on your computer and see what is happening or get a text and maybe take an alternate route,” Magruder says.

The ITS will be able to monitor traffic speeds, which can help with collision detection and get accident responders quickly to the scene. The ITS also will include NDOT’s Dynamic Messaging Signs, which inform motorists of travel times. A DMS currently is installed on northbound U.S. 395 near Neil Road.

Granite will widen the highway from East McCarran Boulevard to Vista by filling in the median area to construct additional lanes. The existing guardrail, which was installed last construction season, will be reused in other portions of the job, Magruder says.

Magruder says much of the work will be performed at night to ease traffic pressure. Some of the work will require additional lane and off-ramp closures.

“That is the only time you can take out all those lanes and ramps,” he says.

The work is the final piece of highway reconstruction on Interstate 80. Road and Highway Builders reconstructed the highway from Keystone to Robb Drive about five years ago, while the eastern portion was redone several years earlier.

“When you drive the corridor, you will see that is the only place that doesn’t have recent improvements,” Granite’s Brada says.

Granite will repave the section from downtown to the Spaghetti Bowl using Portland cement concrete paving. Although it has higher up-front costs, concrete pavement typically has twice the design life of asphalt paving and requires much less maintenance. Concrete pavement can last as long as 35 to 40 years although that can be lessened due to Reno’s cold winters, hot summers and the high volume of big-rig truck traffic passing through town.

Atkins will host a public meeting about the project at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center on May 11 from 4 to 7 p.m.

The $72 million job is the fourth major highway project under way in the Truckee Meadows. Granite is widening U.S. 395 northbound from Moana Lane to the Spaghetti Bowl, Meadow Valley Contractors is installing new on- and off-ramps at Meadowood Drive, and Fisher Industries is nearing the final stages of a four-year project to construct a freeway through the Washoe Valley.

“This is quite an interesting time for northern Nevada,” NDOT’s Magruder says.


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