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395 has to be repaved

Sheila Gardner

The bad news is Granite Construction Co. has been ordered to dig up and repair a one-mile stretch of Highway 395 through the Minden business district after officials determined the recently completed asphalt project was too oily for state standards.

The good news is the $150,000 repaving won’t cost taxpayers a dime.

Beleaguered merchants along the highway say they’ve lost enough business due to the road construction and are bitter about this latest disruption.

“We’re sorry,” said Tom Zamzow, Granite Construction Co. area manager in Carson City. “We’re going to have to replace the asphalt in all four travel lanes for the entire project from First through Tenth streets in Minden.”

Zamzow blamed faulty computer software for the snafu.

“We got some new computer software for the asphalt plant and the software the manufacturer sent us was faulty,” Zamzow said. “We started doing the job, we were testing materials and we found on the very last day that we may have a potential problem.”

Zamzow said the test materials indicated the software was putting too much oil in the material.

“What that can lead to is rutting of the pavement,” he explained.

After Granite and Nevada Department of Transportation officials conducted independent tests, officials determined that the project needed to be redone.

“It’s a terrible thing for local businesses, it’s a terrible thing for us and it’s not too good for the software company, either,” said Zamzow.

Granite will begin redoing the project at 9 p.m. Sunday and work around the clock until it’s complete. Zamzow said he expected the work to take two days.

“There was absolutely no way we could have told what was happening,” he said. “The computer readout said everything was perfect.”

Zamzow said Granite intended to recoup its loss from the computer company.

“Obviously, this is not going to cost the state of Nevada anything,” he said.

“The Carson Valley Inn is extremely disappointed that the road has to be repaved,” said Bill Henderson, marketing director of Carson Valley Inn. “The first two times we received no advance warning and this has caused major disruptions in our businesses.”

Henderson said communication between NDOT and the merchants along Highway 395 has been disastrous.

“They’re communicating now, but the first two times they went through and did the road, we got no advance notice,” Henderson said.

“They called us yesterday (Thursday) to tell us they found a computer glitch. Who cares? Our stand on it is when something goes wrong at our business (CVI), we try to make it right for the customer. When NDOT or Granite does something wrong, we are looking for somebody to make it right. We’re looking for somebody to come to the businesses along Highway 395 and say ‘We made a mistake.’ Somebody needs to step up to the plate and take the responsibility,” Henderson said.

“The inn is going to survive, but for some of the smaller businesses, this latest disruption will be a real hassle,” he said.

NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said the state ordered the asphalt to be replaced because the road surface would not hold up for the lifetime of the project – 10 to 15 years.

“It’s not the most pleasing news, but it’s better to do it now than come back in two or three years and have to tear it all up again,” he said.

“We apologize to the merchants and the motorists,” Magruder said. “We’ll do a lot of work at night and should be done in two or three days.”

He said most of the businesses along the mile stretch had alternative access for their customers.

For CVI, however, four golfing tours are booked for the first part of the week, Henderson said.

“We’re going to have four golf groups wanting to get in and get out to the golf course,” said Henderson.

When the asphalt project is redone, the road crew still has work to do, Magruder said.

“Once this is done, we still have a final layer to do,” Magruder said. “When the temperatures warm up, we have less than an inch of final surface to apply.”

Town of Minden engineer Bruce Scott said he regretted the inconvenience, but appreciated seeing the repair work completed so quickly.

“It’s nice to see everybody working together,” Scott said. “The town appreciates NDOT maintaining standards to make the work last. As big as Granite is, they’ve been very responsive to the work done in Minden. They get in and get it done.”

The paving project, which originally cost $600,000, began in March and was extended by the request of the Town of Minden to include building sidewalks.

Ken Groff, salesman at Complete Furniture Outlet, said the highway project had a severe financial impact on the store.

“We’ve been down more than 30 percent,” Groff said. “We haven’t totaled it up for the month. It’s hard enough to sell out here anyway, let alone with this. We stay open, but in our location it’s very difficult.”

Dave Mills, who owns the Beacon service station, said his business was off by as much as 50 percent during the height of the road project. He said the exact figure is hard to calculate because he’s still feeling the effects of the Highway 395 closure south of Topaz due to the New Year’s flood.

“It’s always something,” he said. “I’ve always said the state of Nevada doesn’t know how to build a road. They should go Caltrans school.”