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Board OKs contract to build road to improve access to Tesla plant

CARSON CITY — The state Board of Transportation on Monday approved a $76 million contract with a company to design and build a new road to improve access to the Tesla battery plant now under construction in Northern Nevada.

Ames Construction Inc. was named last month as the “apparent best value” proposer to design and build the USA Parkway. Transportation officials then negotiated a contract with the company and presented it to the board. The vote for approval was unanimous.

Ames was one of four companies on a short list that was scored on the USA Parkway project, which consists of a new road from where Tesla is based near Interstate 80 south to U.S. Highway 50.

The project is expected to be finished by fall 2017.

Commissioner Len Savage called the project “a lifeline to the new Nevada.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval, the board’s chairman, said the parkway project has the highest economic return of any project he has seen while on the board. He called it a “game-changer” for the region and the state.

Ames proposed the lowest price, which was $2 million lower than the next runner-up, and had the second-lowest technical score. Ames Construction also proposed a construction schedule of 606 working days, approximately a month shorter than the next shortest timeframe. Ames is a full-service, heavy civil and industrial general contractor with offices throughout North America. Its Nevada office is in Carlin.

The project estimate was $70 million.

The USA Parkway already consists of 6 miles of four-lane highway south from Interstate 80. The parkway extension would add 12.5 miles to U.S. Highway 50 to provide access from Lyon County, which has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Other companies on the short list include Granite Construction Co., Kiewit Western Co. and Q&D Construction Inc.

Developing the USA Parkway, also known as State Route 439, has been in the department’s plans since 2011, well before Tesla Motor Co. considered building its lithium ion battery plant in Nevada. However, the state wanted to expedite the project to provide access to construction workers as soon as possible.

Extending USA Parkway to U.S. 50 will give better access to workers and employees of the 110 companies in the 107,000-acre industrial park who live in Yerington, Dayton, Stagecoach and Carson City. Workers from those locations must now access the area from I-80, through Fernley on U.S. Highways 50A and 95A or through Reno via Interstate 580.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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