Transportation group campaign seeks more highway money for Nevada

A nonprofit transportation advocacy group has enlisted Nevada contractors and two government agencies to lobby federal lawmakers for additional highway funding, identifying 25 state projects that could be at risk if money dries up.

TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based research group, on Wednesday launched “Hardhats for Highways,” a campaign to educate decision-makers about funding shortfalls they say would jeopardize local construction jobs. The group said key Southern Nevada transportation projects would be at risk if Congress doesn’t address a Highway Trust Fund shortfall expected to hit in fiscal 2015.

“The impact of inadequate federal surface transportation revenues could be felt as early as summer of 2014, when the balance in the highway account of the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to drop below $1 billion, which will trigger delays in the federal reimbursement to states for road, highway and bridge projects,” TRIP said in a report. “States are expected to respond to this delay if federal reimbursement for road, highway and bridge repairs and improvements by delaying or postponing numerous projects. As a further result, nationwide federal funding for highways will be cut by almost 100 percent from the current investment level for the fiscal year starting on Oct. 1 unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues.”

Among the Southern Nevada projects TRIP named:

— The continued expansion of portions of Interstate 15 in the Las Vegas area, including the “Project Neon” between the Spaghetti Bowl and Sahara Avenue.

— The proposed Interstate 11 between Phoenix and Las Vegas, including the initial portions of the Boulder City bypass.

— Improvement at the Interstate 215 airport connector interchange to ease congestion.

— Redevelopment of the Maryland Parkway corridor between downtown Las Vegas and McCarran, which is under study for a more efficient mass transit system.

— Planning a truck bypass linking I-15 near the Las Vegas Beltway exit near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to U.S. 95.

— High-occupancy-vehicle lanes on I-215.

Representatives of the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation District of Southern Nevada, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the Associated General Contractors of Las Vegas joined TRIP leaders in an event near the Spaghetti Bowl, the state’s busiest highway interchange.

“Our members of Congress need to understand how many people back here are counting on federal transportation investments,” Guy Martin, vice president of Las Vegas-based Martin-Harris Construction and the president of the Associated General Contractors of Las Vegas, said in a statement. “Investing in roads, bridges and transit not only makes our broader economy more efficient and vibrant, it puts a lot of men and women to work here in Las Vegas and across the country.”

The Hardhats for Highways campaign will encourage transportation contractors to contact lawmakers.

Members of construction industry also took the Hardhats for Highways appeal to companies attending the massive ConExpo/CONAGG trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center this week.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.