Posts Tagged ‘Magruder’

Nevada Transportation Department Obligates All Road Project Stimulus Funds

By Sean Whaley | 1:28 pm February 5th, 2010

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.

Democrats Blast Gibbons on Stimulus Spending, Governor Fires Back

By Sean Whaley | 5:58 pm October 14th, 2009
CARSON CITY – The Nevada State Democratic Party today launched an attack on Gov. Jim Gibbons for failing to get federal stimulus transportation and infrastructure projects out to bid in a timely fashion.

“In his typical inept fashion, Gibbons has landed Nevada at the bottom of another list; the state ranks 46th in the number of transportation and infrastructure projects it has put out to bid,” the release says. “While most states have allocated more than 40 percent of their stimulus dollars allotted for transportation projects, according to a report released last month Nevada has put less than 27 percent of its funding out to bid. And the state has begun work on projects that totaled only 23 percent of the state’s transportation and infrastructure funding.”

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns rejected the criticism, saying the information was inaccurate when it was brought up several weeks ago and it remains inaccurate now.

“We could have done one large project and spent all the money at one time,” he said. “Instead the state is doing a large number of smaller projects that will benefit more people and create more jobs. Even shovel-ready projects have to go out to bid, get equipment ready and get moving.”

The Nevada Department of Transportation reports that nearly $100 million of the $140 million it has received for transportation projects is now obligated. Of the 18 projects around the state under the control of NDOT, 15 are out to bid.

“The money is spent,” said NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder. “We feel we have met, if not exceeded, the expectation of getting these projects out.”

Other transportation projects are being handled by the counties, and Magruder could not speak to the status of those projects.

The Democratic Party release says Nevada’s Democratic delegation to Congress, led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, worked to bring $1.5 billion in funding to Nevada through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But Gibbons “foot-dragging” has put Nevada behind the rest of the nation in putting the stimulus money to use, the release says.

Burns said giving Reid credit for Nevada’s stimulus funding is “pathetic and laughable.” Nevada ranks 50th in per capita spending for stimulus funds, he said.

Burns said critics need to take a “Civics 101 class.”

“They have no idea how this government process works,” he said. “There are rules, regulations, stipulations and strings attached. We can’t do this overnight.”

Gibbons is trying to help as many Nevada residents as possible with the funding by creating as many jobs as possible across the state, Burns said.

Report Says Serious Deficiencies Remain in Nevada’s Transportation Network

By Sean Whaley | 5:44 pm October 13th, 2009

CARSON CITY – Nearly 60 percent of Nevada’s major urban roadways are congested during peak travel times, a situation that will only worsen without significant improvements to the state’s transportation system, a report released today says.

The state has used a combination of federal and state funding to improve its surface transportation network over the past decade, but many needed road projects remain unfunded, according to the report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C., based national transportation organization.

TRIP is a nonprofit group that promotes transportation policies that relieve traffic congestion, improve road and bridge conditions, improve air quality, make highway travel safer and enhance economic productivity.

The report, called “Future Mobility in Nevada: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” says congestion on Nevada’s urban roadways will worsen as the economy begins to recover.

The report also found that:

- The state’s traffic fatality rate is higher than the national average;

- Twelve percent of the state’s bridges are deficient;

- Thirteen percent of the state’s major roads are rated in either poor or mediocre condition.

Because of these deficiencies, the average Las Vegas area motorist loses $1,481 each year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs due to poor road conditions, lost time and fuel caused by traffic congestion, and the cost of traffic crashes. Reno area drivers are estimated to lose $972 annually in similar costs.

According to the report, a number of needed transportation projects will not go forward without a boost in funding, including expanding portions of I-580 in Reno to six lanes, widening portions of U.S. 395 in Carson City to six lanes and expanding portions of I-515/U.S. 95 and I-15 in Las Vegas to 10 lanes.

The report projects that vehicle travel in Nevada will increase by another 70 percent by 2030, further congesting the state’s highways unless significant improvements are made.

This year’s federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides about $201 million in stimulus funding for highway and bridge improvements and $49 million for public transit improvements in Nevada, but TRIP says this is only a “down payment” on needed transportation improvements.

“It is critical that the state adequately fund its transportation system and that Congress produces a timely and adequately funded federal surface transportation program this year,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Thousands of jobs and the state’s economy are riding on it.”

Much of the information in the report was supplied by the Nevada Department of Transportation. Agency spokesman Scott Magruder said: “Our position is we have far more transportation needs statewide than funding available.”

There is no plan in place at this point on how to fill the gap between need and available funding, he said. In the meantime, the agency will continue to use federal gas tax funds and available ARRA funds to move forward with projects, Magruder said.

TRIP spokeswoman Carolyn Bonifas said the report does not make any specific recommendations on how to bridge the gap between transportation needs and funding.

“Our purpose is to put the information on the table so the governor and Legislature can be ready to make those decisions,” she said. “There are as many solutions as there are states.”

Given Nevada’s current economic condition, getting road projects off the drawing boards and under way would put people to work and help the economy, Bonifas said. It would also ensure a quality transportation system for Nevada that will be critical as the economy recovers and businesses look to relocate or expand, she said.