nevada highway users coalition
January 15, 2010
 
Dear Highway User:

Recently, Jeremy Aguero, a principal at Applied Analysis, made a presentation outlining the results of a study of public works construction in Nevada, which included roads and highways.

The presentation to contractors, suppliers, elected officials and public works representatives was made during the strategic planning session of the Las Vegas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors. The study showed that government agencies across the country invest approximately one out of every eight dollars for capital expenditures, while in Nevada nearly one out of each six dollars is spent on capital improvements.

These expenditures are spread across nearly a dozen categories, with streets and roads representing slightly less than one-third of the total. The list compiled for Southern Nevada alone listed nearly 400 “shovel ready” projects, many of which currently have no specific funding source. Addressing the budgets of Clark County agencies doing public works, the nearly $5 billion dollar budget in 2010 will decline to less than $2 billion by fiscal year 2013.

Many of these projects, particularly underground sewers and water lines, need to be funded to allow timely completion prior to scheduled reconstruction and widening of existing streets and highways. Local agencies responsible for road construction are encountering delays in projected project completions, since the projects are being placed on hold until necessary underground work is completed.

Mr. Aguero’s charts also demonstrated recent declines in the traditional revenue sources of property taxes, sales taxes and fuel taxes, which have been used to support bonds for road and highway projects during Nevada’s significant growth over the past two decades. The recent infusion of Federal dollars through stimulus funds has augmented some of our infrastructure needs, but will not replace historical revenue sources that have supported the bonds to build not only highway projects, but schools, water, sewer and others.

Funding the nearly 400 “shovel ready” projects on Clark County’s list alone would directly and indirectly put 72,000 hard working Nevadans back to work and would have a positive economic impact of billions of dollars on our state’s economy.

An immediate solution to funding these critical projects as soon as possible will be a critical step toward kick starting our state’s economy.

Sincerely,
The Nevada Highway User’s Coalition

 
Did You Know?
In Nevada, there were 427 traffic deaths in 2005, a steady increase from the 314 statewide deaths in 2001. In 2009, traffic deaths decreased 81 persons from 2008 for a total of 243.
 
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I-15 looking south between Craig Road and the Spaghetti Bowl in Las Vegas. NDOT is putting the finishing touches on the $240 million Design/Build project to improve and widen I-15 north of Las Vegas.
 

At a Crossroads
Guest Column By Susan Martinovich
Director-Nevada Department of Transportation

Nevada is at a crossroads when it comes to funding much needed transportation projects. Fuel taxes are not meeting demands as a viable mechanism for funding transportation needs and that is why NDOT has an obligation to explore other funding options. One option is a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) fee. Some of the primary reasons Nevada needs to look into a VMT fee alternative include:

  • Hybrid/electric vehicles are increasing. While an important environmental positive, alternative vehicles pay limited fuel tax to support roadways.
  • Fuel efficiency has increased 54 percent since 1975, and will continue to increase, leading to less road funding.
  • Current public road funding comes from fuel taxes. Today, due to inflation, these fuel taxes cover less than half the road construction and maintenance they funded when last raised in 1992.

To potentially help overcome this, NDOT and the Regional Transportation Commissions of Washoe County and Southern Nevada will begin a vehicle miles traveled fee pilot study.

The study will evaluate VMT fees as a potential fuel tax replacement. A VMT fee taxes the amount of miles traveled instead of fuel consumption. This is not an additional tax. It is a potential replacement for current taxes paid at the pump.

The study will look at privacy, policy, technology, administration and equitability. Is this the best system for Nevada? How will privacy be completely secured? How will fees be equitably applied to all road users? These are just some of the questions that will be evaluated. Similar tests have and are being conducted in other states.

In the end, what the study means is that, should the fuel tax need to be replaced with another funding source in the future, Nevada is ready with an equitable option that has been shown to work here.

NDOT expects to present its findings to the legislature after holding public hearings over the next several months.

 

Banking on Our Nation’s Infrastructure Needs
Our nation’s infrastructure spending in real dollars is about the same now as it was in 1968 when the economy was a third smaller. Three of the country’s key business leaders are of the same opinion: Our aging infrastructure will eventually constrain economic growth. They suggest the establishment of a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) to invest in merit-based projects of national significance that span both traditional and technological infrastructure—roads, airports, bridges, high-speed rails, smart grid and broadband—by leveraging private capital. http://tiny.cc/M8Ypv

High Speed Rail Picks Up Steam Across Country, World - More Jobs, Less Traffic Congestion
A group of Florida business, civic and political leaders has kicked off a grassroots effort to convince the administration in Washington that the Sunshine State should get a slice of the stimulus money looming for high-speed rail projects.

Rallies in Tampa and Orlando unveiled a campaign aimed at ensuring Florida gets that money – and, along with it, thousands of much-needed jobs. http://tiny.cc/XGjiV

California’s auspicious rail revamp has cities clawing to be rail stops rather than just scenery from the windows. http://tiny.cc/SrObp

China may not have access to stimulus money, but is poised to expand its rail network. China has embarked on the second largest public works program in history, following only the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System in size. China plans to spend more than $1 trillion on expanding its railway network from 78,000 km today to 110,000 km in 2012 and 120,000 km in 2020.

China’s goal is to reshape its landscape around train services to a similar degree that the Interstates have reshaped the America. http://tiny.cc/y6aFm

In Nevada, the high speed Vegas to Southern California route may turn into jobs by 2011, while Southern Nevada’s existing rail system, the Strip’s Monorail, is hoping bankruptcy reorganization can create a link to McCarran Airport. Read more at http://tiny.cc/X2uBG

The run to rails is also being touted as one of the top tourism stories for Southern Nevada. This year the start up and progress of the proposed DesertXpress, the high-speed train traveling at 150 mph would connect Southern Nevada with Southern California. http://tiny.cc/XpRPE

RTC Facing Public Relations, Condemnation Issues on Two Large Road Projects
The widening of Reno’s Moana Lane has already struggling businesses worried about disruptions http://tiny.cc/liQTq, while the long-planned McCarran-Pyramid
Highway project that could cost upward of $85 million and require the removal of some 70 homes, could also meet potential resistance. http://tiny.cc/gT7zs

The two project’s success may come to a campaign of “hearts and minds” as the region continues a tradition of contentious road-building debate that goes back to the 1970s. http://tiny.cc/wH2ZV

Traffic Deaths in Nevada Decline; Texting Next Driver Safety Target
There was one bit of bright news in a dismal 2009, highway deaths in Nevada decreased by 81 persons. A combination of fewer miles driven and better enforcement of traffic laws were reasons given for the sharp decline. http://tiny.cc/HDzq6

Nationally, safety leaders are targeting texting as a major driver distraction and many states are taking aim at these multi-tasking motorists. http://tiny.cc/OfA2e

Nevada State Leaders Assailed Over Pace of Highway Stimulus Spending
Nevada’s Congressional Democrats chiding the state leadership over the Silver State’s slipping rank in highway stimulus spending. Less than one-third of $200 million has been released into the economy. http://tiny.cc/OeyiQ

NDOT Moves Ahead on Two Major Projects
State transportation officials are moving forward on two major freeway projects. In December, NDOT reviewed claims from a former employee of a project subcontractor that a bridge structure on the new freeway linking Reno and Carson City was unsafe. Numerous inspections have not substantiated the claims. NDOT is continuing to review the claims. The project is on track for a 2011 opening. http://tiny.cc/qa4vD

The Nevada Department of Transportation delivered an early Christmas present to Las Vegas motorists with substantial completion of the Interstate 15 design-build North. The project originally scheduled for completion in the fall of 2010 was completed 10 months early. http://tiny.cc/AusuL

Just weeks after work on the Interstate 15 North project ended, construction crews are back on the valley's main freeway, this time on part of the road in the south valley.

The Interstate 15 South Design-Build Project will widen the road from Tropicana Avenue to Silverado Ranch Boulevard. http://tiny.cc/UKAcW

 
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