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Small army of maintenance workers keeps Nevada highways humming

Aside from being tasked with planning and creating new highways in the state, the Nevada Department of Transportation is also responsible for keeping the roads and surrounding areas clean and flowing smoothly.

NDOT oversees 763 miles of freeways and roads in Clark County — or about 14 percent of Southern Nevada’s total transportation network. Those state-maintained highways and roads account for nearly 74 percent of vehicle miles traveled in Clark County and include Interstate 15, U.S. Highway 95, Sahara Avenue and Charleston Boulevard.

To do its job, the transportation department employs a small army of maintenance workers carrying out over 100 different tasks around the state.

NDOT has six maintenance stations in Clark County, including two in Las Vegas, with 250-plus state transportation maintenance employees in Clark County. They do everything from resurfacing roads, cleaning drainage channels and cleaning graffiti, to assisting drivers and first responders during crashes.

“NDOT’s dedicated, expert employees are the driving force behind Nevada’s top transportation system,” said Michael Yates, assistant district engineer overseeing maintenance. “It takes dedication and expertise to administer, construct and maintain a road and bridge system continually named among the nation’s best.”

One task outside the transportation realm is rescuing stray animals, though maintenance workers frequently find stray dogs and cats and work with the Animal Foundation to help get those animals adopted.

The job can be dangerous as working on roadsides creates risks each day.

Two dozen department employees have been killed in the line of duty since 1948, including – most recently – Ron Raiche Jr., who was struck and killed by a driver on March 30, 2015, while repairing roadway cracking on Interstate 80 near Battle Mountain.

Area work crews collect 2,000 cubic yards of highway and roadside debris a month, operating 20 mechanical booms that sweep a 10-foot path across I-15 gutters and medians as well as other state-maintained roadways at least once a week.

Due to the rigorous schedule, broom bristles need replacing every other week.

“Brooms are dispatched once a spill or roadside hazard has been reported,” said Tony Illia, transportation department spokesman. “The department, in fact, recently deployed 13 brooms to help pick up 50 tons of New Year’s celebration trash along the Strip and downtown Las Vegas.”

The department invested $1.43 million toward cleaning up debris in Southern Nevada in fiscal year 2018, while spending $920,000 on chip sealing, $320,000 for snow and ice removal, and $20,000 for weed killer.

Aside from the street sweepers, NDOT has a vast machinery fleet statewide for rapid deployment, including over 600 vehicles and about 2,000 pieces of heavy equipment like wheel loaders, dump trucks and snow plows.

“Investment in maintenance and upkeep curtails costly and larger repairs in the future,” Illia said. “As such, proactive and consistent maintenance and reinvestment in our transportation infrastructure system is critical to ensuring statewide mobility and connectivity as well as reliability and longevity.”

CES monorail

With 180,000 attendees expected to converge on Las Vegas this week for CES 2020, getting in and out of the various convention sites can be a drag.

One way to avoid the madness is by traveling above it all on the Las Vegas Monorail. In anticipation of increased ridership during CES, the Monorail Company is offering special, multi-ride fares.

A three-day pass is $25; a four-day pass is $32 and a five-day pass is $38 for CES attendees.

The Monorail has seven stations stretching from the Sahara to the MGM Grand, with one of the stops being at the center of CES action, the Las Vegas Convention Center.

CES attendees download their Monorail pass directly to their Android or iOS enabled smartphone for use in their Google Pay or their Apple wallet.

To purchase discounted Monorail tickets for International CES, go to https://tix.lvmonorail.com/CES2020.

Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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