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I-15 upgrades ‘unlikely’ before stadium’s opening

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Courtesy of MANICA Architecture

A look at the proposed $1.9 billion domed football stadium for the Oakland Raiders and UNLV football in Las Vegas.

Thu, May 18, 2017 (1:49 p.m.)

It is unlikely that almost $200 million in Interstate 15 projects tied to the Russell Road stadium site will be complete in 2020, when the Raiders are scheduled to begin to play, NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon said today.

The projects, which include Interstate 15-Tropicana Avenue interchange improvements and high-occupancy vehicle ramps at Hacienda and Harmon avenues, still must be added to NDOT’s budget for fiscal year 2018, Malfabon said.

“We plan on adding some projects to federal fiscal year 2018 that we’ve had communication with Regional Transportation Commission planning staff about,” Malfabon said at the RTC board of commissioners meeting Thursday. “NDOT’s changes have to be made this summer, so they can be added to the statewide plan.”

Among the additions are the environmental and engineering phases for the Tropicana interchange and the Hacienda/Harmon HOV ramps. Malfabon said the department would issue a request to add the proposals in the next few weeks..

The engineering phase for improvements to northbound Interstate 15 and the 215 Beltway will also be added.

Environmental clearance is expected to take two years for the Tropicana interchange and the HOV ramps.

“It is unlikely that we would construct all of these improvements by the fall of 2020,” he said. “We will look at what phases could start construction as soon as we obtain the federal approval. I don’t believe that the Tropicana interchange could start. I think we could start looking at right-of-way acquisition and utility relocations (by then).”

Malfabon did say that it is possible the Hacienda and Harmon HOV ramps could be started before the fall of 2020, but that would be subject to transportation board approval.

Bonding

Although an option to carry out the almost $200 million in proposed road projects includes the possible use of state bonds, no decision is expected anytime soon on the matter.

NDOT would sell bonds and repay investors with money from the fuel-revenue index tax.

“Bonding is an option that we’re considering, but no decisions have been made yet,” Malfabon said. “We submitted our biennial budget request to the governor’s finance office prior to the (continued) FRI (fuel-revenue indexing) passage with the public vote last November.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended budget that was submitted to the Legislature didn’t include any bonding against FRI revenue, Malfabon said.

“The state portion of that fuel-revenue indexing starts being collected July 1 of this year, and the first deposit of that revenue to the state highway fund starts in September,” Malfabon said. “We can estimate that revenue, but we would like to confirm how much revenue we will receive from that funding source before we would issue bonds against it.”

If bonds were to be used to pay for the road work projects near the NFL stadium, they would have to be approved by multiple boards.

“We need several approvals for the bonding, the transportation board, the board of finance and the Interim Finance Committee,” he said. “The IFC approves the ability to receive and expend that additional revenue.”

NDOT’s bonding council will analyze how much bonding capacity is available to the department for the needed projects and make a decision based on those findings.

“They’re going to look at our regular bonds. We pay off a series of bonds next year, and they’re going to specifically look at the fuel-revenue indexing revenue for projects in Clark County,” Malfabon said..

One of those projects is the next phase of the Centennial Bowl project, which is budgeted at $55 million and slated to begin next year, Malfabon said.

Although concern has been expressed that NDOT will divert money away from other Clark County road projects to carry out the Interstate 15 work for the stadium, Malfabon said he’s been quite clear on the department's stance on that.

“I’ll state again on record, there’s no diversion of funding,” he said.

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