Easily beating the March deadline for spending stimulus funds, Nevada transportation officials announced Thursday they have allocated the $201 million received a year ago, joining only two other states that have dedicated 100 percent of their funds.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money will create or sustain about 1,600 jobs as the state embarks on more than 70 transportation and transit projects, according to Susan Martinovich, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation.
The bulk of the money, $150 million, will be spent in Southern Nevada on projects such as the Regional Transportation Commission’s new park-and-ride facilities and ACE bus system. The transportation department is also repaving roads, opening additional bike paths and fixing sidewalks.
“In Clark County, $150 million has been spent not just on state and federal highways, but on multiple local projects,” Martinovich said.
Standing next to the steel skeleton of the Bonneville Transit Center on Casino Center Boulevard, Jacob Snow, executive director of the transportation commission and Las Vegas native, said the work along that stretch is a prime example of what the federal dollars can do for the community.
The transit center is a state-of-the-art facility that not only serves as a bus depot but also will include showers for commuters who choose to ride their bikes to work downtown. Special lanes, which will handle the ACE bus line beginning next month, have been spruced up with modernized bus shelters and desert landscaping. The improvements have transformed the once littered Casino Center street into an attractive boulevard.
“That is quality growth, making an investment we can be proud of for decades to come,” Snow said.
Democratic leaders have criticized Republic Gov. Jim Gibbons, who also serves as chairman of the Department of Transportation board, for failing to expeditiously spend the funding. They noted that the money still is only obligated and not under contract. But Martinovich said Nevada joins only Wyoming and Maine in allocating all of its funding.
Snow added that if a second round of stimulus funding comes along, Nevada will be ready with a list of projects.
“We appreciate the efforts of Congress,” Snow said. “We have plenty of projects to spend money on. We’re very proud of what we have to show you.”
Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@review journal.com or 702-387-2904.