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Crews Pour Foundation of the Veterans Memorial Bridge

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Since 1965, the Regional Transportation Commission has been working on a road that would connect Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, along the east side of the Truckee Meadows.

Today, that vision is closer to reality with construction of the SouthEast connector underway.

One of the biggest projects will the construction of the Veterans Memorial Bridge. Once it's completed, it will be the largest bridge in the Truckee Meadows.

Crews are building the foundation, drilling 47 shafts that are seven to nine feet wide and up to 90 feet deep.

30-ton rebar cages are placed into the drilled shaft, and filled with concrete, finishing one per day.

"There is a tremendous amount of effort that goes into not only the design but the construction of a bridge to get those foundations ready before we start coming up out of the ground," Garth Oksol, SouthEast Connector Project Manager said.

The bridge will stretch more than 1,400 feet across, and 30 feet above the river.

It's part of a 5.5 mile stretch connecting Greg Street to South Meadows Parkway.

In 20 years, officials believe between 47,000 and 54,000 cars will use the road every day, easing traffic in other areas of town.

"If you look at the overall Truckee Meadows as a whole, you'll see 13 regional roads west of I-580 or 395 and only three regional roads on the east part of the valley," Oksol said.

Oksol says phase one of this project is also good for the local economy, creating 280 construction jobs.

"Those are people living here, in our community, visiting your restaurants, visiting your retail stores, living here, spending that money that is directly paid through this project," Oksol said.

The entire project is expected to open in the spring of 2016.

Despite concerns from some of the public, Oksol says population will grow as fast as their studies show and the project will not have adverse effects in flooding situations.

The destruction of wetlands is another environmental concern for some.

"We are impacting some wetlands, unfortunately, but with our mitigation plan, every acre of wetland that we're impacting, we're going to create two new healthy acres of wetlands that are going to be more ecologically beneficial to the wildlife to the community," Oksol said.

Phase 2 of the SouthEast Connector is expected to start next spring and will cost between $230-$250 million.

RTC is hosting a neighborhood meeting for information on the SouthEast Connector's status Thursday night at Hidden Valley Elementary School.

Written by Paul Nelson
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