Boulder City bypass right-of-way costs could be more than $100 million

CARSON CITY – Right-of-way costs for the proposed Boulder City bypass project could exceed $100 million and slow its completion, Gov. Brian Sandoval and other members of the state Transportation Board of Directors were told Monday.

Rudy Malfabon, director of the Department of Transportation, described the costs as significant. The agency has hired outside legal counsel to help in the evaluation of the property needed for the project, which is estimated to cost $500 million, he said.

The right-of-way costs, including inverse condemnation, where property owners seek compensation for detrimental effects of the project on their property, are being evaluated, and a more detailed report will be presented at a future board meeting, Malfabon said.

After the meeting, Sandoval said the right-of-way costs are clearly a concern.

“There is one parcel where the demand is between $60 million and $120 million for one approximately three-acre parcel,” he said. “We have to be very careful, and we have to be very diligent in how we process the inverse condemnation claim.”

High right-of-way costs could take scarce highway funding away from construction of the bypass.

The bypass is a 17-mile highway that would link U.S. Highway 95 and the new Hoover Dam bypass bridge.

Scott Magruder, spokesman for the department, said Phase 1 of the bypass to Railroad Pass is moving forward, but there is no funding for Phase 2, which would run south of Boulder City east to the existing Hoover Dam bypass and bridge.

“It is a category of project that we think is needed but that has no funding,” Magruder said.

As a result, there is no completion date, he said.

But Sandoval said there are other potential funding options for the project.

The 2011 Legislature passed a bill making the toll road a potential option to get it built more quickly. The bill lifted a prohibition on toll roads in Nevada and made the bypass a possible demonstration project.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is evaluating the feasibility of the toll road option.

“I think the intent for the Boulder City highway is for it to be paid via toll,” Sandoval said.

Motorists would be able to avoid the toll by driving through Boulder City instead.

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