CARSON CITY – Nevada’s Transportation Department, which came in for some criticism last year for what was described as a slow start to spending its share of federal stimulus money, announced this week that all of its funds have now been obligated a month ahead of schedule.
The commitment of the $201 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act highway funds puts Nevada with Maine and Wyoming as the three states that have now obligated 100 percent of their funds, and comes almost a year to the date the money was made available.
“We are proud to have obligated all of our funds that not only provided an economic boost to Nevada but also funded much needed highway projects in all 17 counties,” said Transportation Department Director Susan Martinovich. “NDOT put a lot of hard work into meeting this deadline ahead of schedule and it was truly a cooperative effort between the state, Clark and Washoe County Regional Transportation Commissions, Nevada Association of Counties and all the local governmental agencies.”
Department spokesman Scott Magruder said the obligation of the funds means that Nevada will get its full share of funding. Some projects are still out to bid, and some won’t be put out to bid until next month, he said. But every project will be under way by May at the latest.
“When we say obligated, we mean the money is in the bank,” Magruder said.
Of the $201 million that Nevada received as part of the federal ARRA highway funding, all 17 counties received funding totaling 69 projects statewide. More than $120 million went to projects in Clark County and an estimated $26 million is going to the construction of the I-580/Meadowood Interchange project in Washoe County.
Magruder said the Meadowood project is expected to start construction in May.
Some of the highway improvement projects statewide benefiting motorists include: an estimated $30.4 million resurfacing of U.S. 95 from S.R. 156 to S.R. 157 in Clark County; a $12.4 million resurfacing of I-80 in Pershing County; and an $11.8 million resurfacing of U.S. 93 in White Pine County.
Last year Democrats criticized Gov. Jim Gibbons for what it said was a failure to get projects out to bid quickly. The criticism was rejected as being inaccurate.
“We were never in a race,” Magruder said. “There are a lot of parts that go into getting a project out. We’re not going to lose any of the money. That’s for sure.”
NDOT has also kept track of non-government employees working on the stimulus projects on a month-by-month basis. It shows 549 jobs with a payroll of $1.7 million in October; 349 jobs and a payroll of $585,000 in November; and 299 jobs with a payroll of $410,000 in December.
Magruder said those totals will increase as the winter weather comes to an end and the last of the stimulus projects get under way.