NDOT agrees to deal on Spooner interchange

Developers of a Clear Creek-area housing project have two weeks to work out an agreement with Nevada Department of Transportation to build an interchange connecting their housing project with Highway 50 four miles up Spooner grade.

The Nevada Transportation Board, headed by Gov. Kenny Guinn, made it clear the state must move on one project or another, and that if Syncon Homes is to replace the existing NDOT project, moving the runaway truck ramp and modifying the existing intersection, developers must work out the details with the state and post a $100,000 surety bond up front.

State transportation director Jeff Fontaine said the agreement "is going to lay out all the details, milestones, requirements" necessary for the project and must be worked out by Jan. 28.

"We've pretty much laid out what those detailed requirements are," he said. "We need to know they're going to have plans in and approved by a certain date, right-of-way certified by a certain date, that they're going to have the project put in and approved by Carson City and Douglas County."

If developers can meet the state requirements, NDOT will put the $800,000 budgeted to move the truck ramp and improve the intersection on Highway 50 into the interchange project. But he said the state wants to put either the truck ramp or interchange project out to bid June 1.

"All these specific milestones need to be agreed to in order for us to meet that June date," said Fontaine. "We can't have them show up May 30 and say 'OK, we're ready to advertise it.'"

He said as of last week's meeting, developers indicated they can meet the state's requirements.

"My understanding is, we have to be ready to advertise for the underpass construction June 1," said Jim Bauserman, spokesman for Syncon Homes in a Monday interview. "Syncon had to put up a $100,000 bond, that could be called if we don't meet the requirements."

Easement approvals for an access road off the proposed underpass must be obtained from Carson City, Douglas County and state lands, Bauserman said.

"All agencies have been very cooperative, and we fully expect to meet the date," he said. "The only thing that could affect the project is the impending lawsuit with Alpine View Estates."

Initially approved for a much lower density, the project was approved for increased development by Douglas County Commissioners in December 2003.

Speaking for the developers at the meeting, Bauserman said it will cost "in the $6 million range" to build an underpass and interchange to replace what is now only a break in the roadway divider wall. Syncon Homes needs the interchange to provide access to his development project.

Fontaine said moving the runaway truck ramp, now just below the intersection, will fix the hazard the state is concerned about. The interchange isn't high on the state's list of priorities.

Bauserman said the underpass interchange would help both his project and the state.

"We need to put the underpass project in as a benefit from the development standpoint," he said. "But this is a chance to create a clean, positive access to Clear Creek and the youth camp, as well as for safety there."

"If they meet those conditions and post $100,000, then we can do the interchange. If not, then we go with Plan B, which is to relocate that runaway truck ramp," Fontaine said.

Bauserman said he is moving to get the necessary approvals, including meeting with Carson City Manager Linda Ritter.

The deal, under which developers would pay the vast majority of the project costs, is the developer's second attempt to get state help. The first plan, presented by former NDOT director Garth Dull, asked the state to pay for the majority of the interchange because of the safety concerns. That proposal was rejected by the Transportation Board.

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750. Reporter Susie Vasquez contributed to this report.

Clear Creek

housing project

• The proposed project by Syncon Homes includes about 221 one-acre lots and 155 8,000-square-foot lots, as well as 18 timeshare or guest lodges associated with a private golf course.

• Development of this pristine property, which encompasses about 1,576 acres in north Douglas County, was challenged by property owners in Alpine View Estates in district court.

• Arguing that a majority of the Douglas County Commission did not approve the resolution, which goes strictly against the spirit of the Douglas County Master Plan, homeowners filed suit in December 2003.

• Commissioner Steve Weissinger was absent and Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen, then an employee of the American Land Conservancy, recused himself from the vote. Commissioners Bernie Curtis and Kelly Kite voted for the project while Commissioner Tim Smith voted against, as he had in a 4-1 ruling for the project in September 2003. In his June 2004 ruling, District Judge David Gamble called the decision by Douglas County commissioners to approve the project "arbitrary and capricious."

• Landowner John Serpa appealed Gamble's decision to the Nevada Supreme Court, and Douglas County followed suit. A special conference to settle the issues was called by the state Supreme Court in December in hopes of resolving the conflict out of court.

• In recent interviews, commissioners Kite and Etchegoyhen said they had no idea how the decision would go.

- Susie Vasquez/Appeal News Service


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment