The project widened a six-mile stretch of asphalt highway from two to four travel lanes between Mile Markers 16 and 22, creating a safe passing lane for slower moving traffic while altering the roadway geometry for fewer twists and turns. Work additionally entailed rehabilitating 22 miles of deteriorating roadway from roughly the Nye County line to the Mountain Springs community.
This vital route serves as a crucial economic link between Las Vegas and Pahrump. Rapid development, additional residents, and increased travel has ratcheted the need for freeway improvements. This project subsequently expanded the roadway while enhancing motorist safety for improved motorist mobility and reliability.
Construction, however, proved tricky due to the needed removal of some stubborn fractured bedrock through Mt. Potosi for the expanded highway. The contracting team consequently undertook 58 blasting events that necessitated temporarily shutting down the highway in both directions, ranging from 30 minutes up to 120 minutes, while crews placed explosives, checked the blast area, and cleared any stray rubble and debris.
North Las Vegas-based blasting subcontractor Sanders Construction used roughly 120,000 total pounds of explosives that helped remove 100,756 cubic yards of material or enough rock and dirt to fill over 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The first blasting event occurred September 24, 2018, with the last one taking place on July 15, 2019.
Meanwhile, other project enhancements consisted of placing five miles of raised concrete median barrier, installing new signage, and flattening side slopes for safer turnouts. Nearly 30 acres of raw desert was hydro-seeded, and 784 new tree saplings and shrubs were installed, with 1,000 cacti and yuccas being salvaged and replanted. Also, the Mountain Springs Community received new frontage roads, improved intersection lighting, and an emergency signal for Clark County Volunteer Fire Station #79.
Additional improvements called for new cattleguards and an underground wildlife undercrossing near Mile Marker 18, with 10 miles of combined deer and tortoise fencing. Crews placed 590 boulders, 14,000 cubic yards of riprap, and 1,706 tons of decorative rock for landscaping and aesthetics that also helps with erosion control and storm water runoff. The project additionally placed flood control channels, box culverts, and six miles of storm drainage pipe up to four-foot in diameter.
Contractors, in total, used 2.4 million pounds of reinforcing steel — or enough to build 650 cars — and move enough dirt to fill 120 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The project, which began in September 2018, created nearly 300 direct, indirect, and induced total local jobs.