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US 95 Northwest Corridor Improvement Project Enters the Last Phase

by: Debra Wood
A finished top slab cures under a blanket on one of the new bridges.
A finished top slab cures under a blanket on one of the new bridges.
Crews use a Dynapac roller to compact a section of the 13-mile U.S. 96 Northwest Corridor Improvements Project.
Crews use a Dynapac roller to compact a section of the 13-mile U.S. 96 Northwest Corridor Improvements Project.
Completed phase 3C featured two flyovers, including the second longest bridge in the state.
Completed phase 3C featured two flyovers, including the second longest bridge in the state.
Crews work on a box culvert.
Crews work on a box culvert.
Work takes place on the Centennial Bowl Bridge in September 2019.
Work takes place on the Centennial Bowl Bridge in September 2019.
A view of a box culvert on phase 3D.
A view of a box culvert on phase 3D.
With the Las Vegas area rapidly growing, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has started the final phase of the $579 million, 13-mile U.S. 95 Northwest Corridor Improvement Project.

“This project has increased high-occupancy vehicle lanes and improved connectivity,” says Brian L. Boedigheimer, Supervisor III and District I, Construction Crew 926 with NDOT. “It has helped with storm water, and it’s much safer now.”

From 2000 to 2017, the population of Las Vegas doubled, leading to increased congestion on the roads. The U.S. Census Bureau reports more than 400,000 people have moved to the state in the last decade.

U.S. 95 serves as a major link between Las Vegas and Reno. About 107,500 vehicles travel the ramps and freeway of U.S. 95 daily. The department expects that to increase in the future, with 160,000 vehicles daily predicted by 2036.

NDOT divided the projects into multiple phases. Federal and state funds were used. The project was designed in-house by NDOT engineers, with some consulting assistance on structures. This $155 million Phase 3D is the last.

Finishing the Centennial Bowl
The prime objective on Phase 3D is to complete the U.S. 95 and CC-215 Beltway interchange, also referred to as the Centennial Bowl, so vehicles can travel from one freeway to another safely without reducing their speed. It also has two local access roads that enter onto the interchange. It will add two lanes to Lone Mountain Drive over U.S. 95 and will widen about a half-mile stretch of the CC-215 Beltway, making it three lanes in each direction.
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“This project helps create a reliable transportation network enhancing cultural and economic opportunities in the northwest Las Vegas valley,” said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, who also chairs the state transportation board, in a statement. “It also improves accessibility, mobility, and safety for residents and businesses.”

The final configuration has 16 bridges. Eleven are currently under construction this first year of the contract. Those bridges are cast-in-place post-tensioned concrete and precast concrete.

Boedigheimer confirmed that this is the state’s largest and most complex interchange, with 20 bridges and three levels of bridges.

The interchange features a multiuse recreational trail that passes through the interchange and is separated from traffic. That trail has three bridges, with one over a main highway, another going under a ramp and the two others are over local access roads.

“If you ride a bike, you will love this place,” Boedigheimer says.

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As in prior phases, aesthetics play an important role. This phase includes metal, 20-foot tall saber-tooth tigers atop a concrete bridge. Nearby Tuli Springs has fossils of big cats who once roamed the area.

“They tried to represent the local archeological features,” Boedigheimer says. “They look really cool.”

A Trusted Partnership
Las Vegas Paving presented the lowest bid and began work on this phase of the project in January 2021. The company, founded in 1958, completed two prior U.S. 95 contracts for the corridor improvement program.

“Our people and staff are able to complete complicated projects with corporate support and resources,” says Darren Keser, Estimator/Project Manager for Las Vegas Paving.

Las Vegas Paving “is a great contractor,” Boedigheimer adds. “The relationships we have built with the foremen and superintendents during the last four contracts, makes it easy to streamline our problem solving, There is more trust in the room.”

Keser reports there have been many moving parts on the project. Eleven of the 16 bridges on this project are under construction. Las Vegas Paving has divided the jobs into crews dedicated to specific aspects of the project, such as falsework, framing, rebar, concrete paving, underground, and road work.

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“That is the biggest part of this job,” Keser says. “The bridge work is super critical.”

A large-diameter, 36-inch, high-pressure gas line ran through the middle of the project and limited the amount of loading possible, Shawn Meagher, Assistant Resident Engineer with NDOT. To accommodate the gas line, NDOT modified the design of some of the bridges by changing the geometry, using spread footings, and straddle bents with transverse post-tensioning to span the gas line.

NDOT also strengthened a 20-foot by 6-foot reinforced concrete box to accommodate 30 feet of excess fill.

“Eleven of the bridges are still under construction,” Keser says. There are a massive amount of bridges that have to be done at one time in order to complete the project on schedule, and we are progressing through them.”

Four of the five bridges over CC-215 Beltway were cast-in-place concrete.

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“The contractor was able to complete all of the cast-in-drilled-holes within the first six months of the project at the interchange,” Meagher says.

NDOT established three milestones for the contractor to limit disruptions to U.S. 95, the local access roads and Lone Mountain Road.

“The contractor had to get into an area, finish that specific area and move on,” Meagher says.

The three of the bridges over U.S. 95 will be built in 2022, and one of the milestones Las Vegas Paving will implement is to complete those bridges within 180 days.

Las Vegas Paving has used GPS for grading on the dozers and blades.

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“We have built a great team out there,” Keser says. “Everyone is the same since 2014. We have a great relationship with NDOT. Everyone knows each other and trusts each other.”

The project is on time and scheduled for an on-time completion early in 2024. “It’s money well spent,” concludes Boedigheimer. “We have a great team.”

Prior Phases
Most of the corridor improvement has been completed. Those phases included adding lanes and auxiliary lanes, and improving interchanges and stormwater systems.

The first $82 million phase widened 6 miles of U.S. 95 and Capriatti Construction of Henderson, Nevada, finished it in 2013. Capriatti also completed the $44 million Phase 4 in 2011.

Las Vegas Paving Corp. of Las Vegas, the contractor on the current phase, wrapped up the second $86 million phase in 2015, the $78 million Phase 2B/5 completed in 2019, and the $44 million Phase 3A in 2017.

Photos courtesy of the Nevada Department of Transportation

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