State Pays $43 Million for USA Parkway Right-of-Way - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

State Pays $43 Million for USA Parkway Right-of-Way

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The Nevada Department of Transportation Board of Directors has approved the $43 million purchase of the right-of-way to complete USA Parkway which will run between Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50.

Finishing the road is part of the deal the state made with Tesla Motors, to build their giant battery factory in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. USA Parkway currently stretches six miles south of I-80. Plans for the new project will extend the 4-lane road another 12.5 miles to Silver Springs. 

Construction of the new roadway will cost about $70 million.Meg Ragonese is a spokesperson for NDOT.  She says the benefits are more than nine times higher than the project costs.

"We can see that this project will have huge benefits in connecting the region, enhancing mobility, reducing travel times for people, as well as supporting economic development," Ragonese said.

Preliminary plans have the extension ending at Opal Avenue. Highway 50 would be widened from two lanes to four, between USA Parkway and 95-Alternate. 
Some people will see their travel times cut by 40%.

"If you take a look at all the folks that live down that way, they're going to be able to come to their jobs in like 15 or 20 minutes," Lance Gilman, Principal of Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center said.

It also offers a faster and more convenient route for trucks that come to and from cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

"We really look at that as a major trucking corridor and it's relieving so much of the pressure on I-80," Gilman said. "Trucks don't have to go out to I-80 and go east or west to go south."

Gilman says TRI will have 10 million square feet of construction by the end of the year, with more companies jumping on-board after Tesla Motors chose to build their gigafactory there.

"Since Tesla announced, we've put 12 companies in escrow, out here," Gilman said. "Some of them are extremely large, 400 acres."

Right now, the USA Parkway project is in the environmental review phase. Construction could begin by the end of 2015 or early 2016.

"There would be some grading," Ragonese said. "Of course, that would happen with the new roadway alignment, as well as cutting through some hills and slopes. But luckily, a lot of this, not being on a current roadway, won't impact traffic."   

NDOT hasn't decided on a contractor yet, but whoever it is will be in charge of designing and building the road. NDOT says it should be completed by the end of 2017.
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