Funding Approved to Widen Highway 50

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The state Transportation Board has approved a $543 million construction program for fiscal 2004 that includes $9 million to widen Alternate U.S. 50 between Fernley and Fallon.

The budget also includes $9.2 million for a new four-mile-long lane on Interstate 80 west of Reno for slow-moving trucks and about $4.6 million for resurfacing about 20 miles of U.S. 93 in Elko County.

Southern Nevada will receive about $500 million of the state and federal money for road projects.

Gov. Kenny Guinn supported the construction plan developed by the Transportation Department in meetings with local government officials. But he lamented that only $2 million goes to constructing sound wall barriers along freeways in the entire state.

Kent Cooper, assistant director of planning for the Transportation Department, said Southern Nevada got most of the projects because it is the state's population center and a small share of construction funds went to the area last year. He said $100 million was set aside last year for highway construction projects in Carson City and Reno.

Jeff Fontaine, Transportation Department director, said his agency strives for a geographic equitable distribution of funds. While one year's distribution might not reflect that, he said equity generally is achieved over a five-year period.

Cooper said so many people live in Clark County that, if a cost-benefit analysis were done, every project would be built there and no money would be left for highway projects in the rest of Nevada.

"We would never spend a dime outside of Clark, because of the huge traffic and growth there," he said.