Members of Mineral County communities traveled to Carson City on Thursday, March 30 to support Nevada Assemblymen as they urge the U.S. Congress to support and ensure that Intermountain West Corridor (I-11) does not bypass Mineral County.
Supported by Ira Hansen, John C. Ellison and Richard McArthur, the assembly joint resolution explained the creation of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which designated the I-11 corridor as a high-priority among our national highways.
The FAST Act stated that from Las Vegas to Reno, the route should follow U.S. Highway 95 and end at Interstate 80, which would bring I-11 right through Mineral County.
Assembly Joint Resolution Number 11 states, “Whereas, U.S. Route 95 runs through the heart of Mineral County, home of the Hawthorne Weapons and Ammunition Depot (HWAD) which encompasses 147,000 acres and where Army, Navy and Marine special forces are trained year-round in the unique aspects of mountainous terrain and a high desert environment similar to that found in Afghanistan.”
The resolution also includes the U.S. Army’s Armament Retooling and Manufacturing Support (ARMS) program, which, located just outside of Hawthorne is a 16,800-acre technology and industrial park. This park is the only one of its kind “west of Missouri certified as an ARMS site, which is a site designed to encourage commercial use of the facility through various incentives, encourage business to locate there, create jobs and new industries, yet retain the Depot’s ability to carry out its primary mission.”
Town board meetings have been held in both Hawthorne and Schurz regarding the interstate. Hawthorne residents chose a route to bring traffic closer to the town where motorists could stop and help with local economy.
Questions have been raised about the I-11 corridor with the railroad tracks that cover many miles within the county.
Nye County commissioners met with Rob Lauer, project leader of a possible high-speed rail he would like to see between Las Vegas and Reno, as reported by the Tonopah Times, in January.
Lauer proposed to the Nye County Commissioners that the passenger and freight stops could have Hawthorne as a designated stop.
The estimated $10 billion project has yet to be brought forth to the Mineral County Commissioners but plans included a bill draft requesting $20 million from the State of Nevada for study. A website – silverbulletnevada.com – provides information about the project.
At a Nevada Public Utilities Commission meeting in late February, concerns were brought forth after many tracks in Nevada were flooded over and inspectors were retiring.
Assemblywoman Robin Titus of Wellington questioned the safety of trains carrying dangerous material throughout the state she represents. She said an example was the rail route through Northern Nevada to Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot.
Anne Marie Cuneo, director of regulatory operations for the PUC, explained to Assemblywoman Titus that federal inspectors were helping with safety examinations.
Assembly Joint Resolution 11 estimates that the I-11 corridor will bring forth $24 billion in economic benefits, create 240,000 jobs and provide $39 billion in travel benefits.
In March, Congressman Mark Amodei discussed with Nevada Department of Transportation about designating a preferred route for I-11, fearing that the state could lose the ability to make a choice.
He explained that with the application from the Naval Air Station in Fallon to expand their training grounds that 600,000 acres of land in Churchill County, if approved, “that door is closed to us as an option.”
He explained that he would like the state to seriously examine the route from southern Nevada to the proposed connection of the I-11 project. Stating he was concerned about the route through Mineral, Lyon and Churchill counties saying the state needs to “preserve the right of way from other encroachments.”
Amodei explained that that included the route around Walker Lake and Schurz. He would like to see the decisions be made in Nevada.
It was the decision of the 79th Session of the Nevada Legislature to urge Congress to continue to pursue the original route for the Intermountain West Corridor through the vicinity of Las Vegas north to Reno and follow US Highway 95 and not to bypass Mineral County.
After the passage of resolution 11, copies will be distributed to Nevada Department of Transportation directors, congress representatives as well as the vice president.
It is unknown the timeline for a discussion to be made.