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Las Vegas Monorail expansion delayed by water pipe

Don’t expect construction on an extension of the Las Vegas Monorail from MGM Grand to Mandalay Bay to start anytime soon.

A monorail company spokeswoman said Thursday it’s “probably not realistic” that ground will be broken for the 1.14-mile extension during the first half of 2017 despite initial projections that construction could start in the second quarter.

The monorail company did not provide a new estimate on when construction could begin.

The news comes on the heels of the third delay of hearings since November because of concerns that the construction could damage or block a water pipeline vital to the Strip. Spokeswoman Ingrid Reisman said the company doesn’t plan to present their updated plans to the Clark County Commission until at least February.

“We’re now delaying it because we’re close enough with the column locations that we’re going to bring it back as a more complete package,” Reisman said. “We anticipate it could shorten the back end of the process because we’re further along with final design.”

On Nov. 1, county commissioners approved the Las Vegas Monorail Co.’s plan to extend the project, which will include a new monorail station and has an estimated price tag of at least $100 million. The commission was expected to approve the zoning permits the next day when the monorail company reported that more work with the water authority was needed. Proposed Las Vegas monorail extension to be revised (Gabriel Utasi/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The problem is the proposed route of the extension, which would build a support column within an easement for a 90-inch water pipeline beneath Reno Avenue. The pipeline is the primary conduit for the water supply serving the Strip.

Water authority operations director Kenneth Albright wrote in a letter to the county’s planning staff that the monorail company was told about the construction conflict on May 4 and Oct. 18.

“(W)e expressed serious and valid concerns about the potential impacts of excavation and construction on water facilities within the proposed area,” Albright wrote. “While we have discussed with the applicant alternative monorail alignments that would avoid considerable conflict with this critical water infrastructure, the applicant has not yet addressed the SNWA’s concerns.”

Reisman said the monorail company had planned to address the placement of the 80-some support columns further along in the project’s design process but decided to tackle the concerns sooner after Albright’s letter to county staff.

Water authority spokesman Bronson Mack said the monorail company provided his agency an updated conceptual plan for the extension this month, and the proposed route provides adequate clearance between the monorail’s supporting columns and the pipeline and easement.

McCarran International Airport staff is reviewing the monorail’s extension plans to determine whether the route will travel onto airport property, airport spokesman Chris Jones said. Airport staff received drawings of the proposed route this month, Jones said.

Reisman said her company is also meeting with business and property owners who will be affected by the extension’s construction, which is estimated to take 18 months.

“We want to ensure every neighbor along the alignment has the opportunity to provide input and receive project information,” she said.

The 3.9-mile monorail has operated east of the Strip since 2004. It runs from SLS Las Vegas to the MGM Grand and has seven stations, including stops at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Westgate, Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo/Caesars Palace and Harrah’s/The Linq.

Southern Nevada Water Authority Letter by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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