Wednesday, November 18, 2020 / by Ken Couture
Crews wrapped up a two-year, 6-mile widening project on state Route 160 that serves as the main connector between Las Vegas and Pahrump, the Nevada Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
The $59 million project increased capacity from two travel lanes in each direction to four and notably included 58 different blasting events, where crews had to close the highway down in each direction for up to two hours to remove bedrock through Mount Potosi.
The blasting used 120,000 total pounds of explosives to help remove over 100,000 cubic yards of rock and dirt.
The widening project added safety features like five miles of center median through the Mountain Springs area to allow for safer passing of slower vehicles, which has often led to serious crashes including multiple fatal wrecks on the stretch. The geometry of the highway also was altered to decrease the number of twists and turns involved on the stretch.
“This vital route serves as a crucial economic link between Las Vegas and Pahrump,” NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said in a statement. “Rapid development, additional residents, and increased travel has ratcheted the need for freeway improvements. This project subsequently expanded the roadway while enhancing motorist safety for improved motorist mobility and reliability.”
The project also included rehabilitating 22 miles of deteriorating roadway on the highway from the Nye County line to the Mountain Springs community .
“They did a great job,” said John Koenig, chair of the Nye County Board of Commissioners and member of the County Regional Transportation Commission. “It will greatly enhance the safety of the road and make Pahrump a more attractive place to visit.”
Other project enhancements included adding decorative rock, installing new signage, flattening side slopes for safer turnouts, hydroseeding 30 acres of raw desert and installing 784 new tree saplings and shrubs. Additionally, 1,000 cacti and yuccas originally in the work area were salvaged and replanted.
New frontage roads and enhanced lighting were added to allow for safer commuting for the Mountain Springs community. An emergency signal was also added for Clark County Volunteer Fire Station #79.
The project marks the second for S.R. 160, as a $16.5 million project widened a 5-mile portion from the state Route 159 intersection to just before the mountain pass into Mountain Springs in Clark County. That project started in February 2016 and wrapped up in June 2017.
With the latest widening project done, Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Jenney Sartin hopes the improved traffic flow between Pahrump and Las Vegas will help the area rebound from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The scope of the economic challenges we’re now facing as a result of COVID-19 calls for new thinking on how to maximize the positive impact of infrastructure development and spending,” Sartin said. “Growth is coming, the question now for Nye County is how do we want to grow? Our hope is that we’ll have a new landscape of economic opportunity to work from within our communities as a direct result of this project.”
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