Southeast Connector: On Schedule and Making Headway

SPARKS, Nev. -- Workers building the Southeast Connector are making progress on Phase I of the three-year project and it looks like they are making headway, meaning those years of traffic headaches will soon be gone.

The 5.5 mile roadway will connect the Sparks to South Reno with six lanes, three going each direction, and will include a bike lane and pedestrian walkway.

The project has been in the works since the 1960s, but now it's finally moving forward.

"That is going to save everybody else time and their commutes as well as help us improve our air quality because we will not have the congestion at intersections which causes the pollution by cars sitting there idling at red lights," Garth Oksol, project manager said.

The Southeast Connector is meant to relieve congestion on I-580 and McCarran Blvd. It will also shave about four minutes off a driver's commute.

"We're wrapping up the drilled shaft operations here on the Truckee Meadows Bridge on the north side of the Truckee River, we'll be moving down south to the area the treatment plant is on and we'll be working on the drilled shafts there," Oksol said.

That's part of Phase I construction. It's on schedule to be competed in the fall on 2014, the same time Phase II of the project will begin.

It didn't come cheap either. The total cost of the project is about $230-250 million and it's 100 percent funded by a local RTC tax. Oksol says it has created about 280 new jobs for the community.

He also says that the new roadway will enhance emergency vehicle access to areas east of Steamboat Creek, should floods occur.

"We've been able to show through our modeling and our mitigation efforts that we don't do anything that adversely impacts a flood event similar to what occurred in 1997," he said.

The project will not only improve water and air quality, but also protect wildlife.

"For every acre of wildlife we impact, we will mitigate that by creating two new acres of wetlands that will be much more ecologically beneficial for the wildlife in the surrounding area."

Drivers should be aware that in the next couple of weeks, traffic will be switched to the new concrete in place.

The project is all set to be competed in the spring of 2016.

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