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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 6, 2004
Contact: Brian C. Keeter, 202-366-0660
FHWA 12-04

Nation's Top Highway Official Tours Nevada's Reno Road and Rail Project; Views Time and Tax Saving Methods, Touts Traffic and Economic Benefits

Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters today toured the Reno ReTRAC project to get a progress report on how innovative contracting and financing methods are saving taxpayers more than $15 million and how project managers are shaving a year off its construction time.

The project, the Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor, involves separating train and vehicular traffic in downtown Reno. A new 33-foot deep trench will take train traffic below ground, eliminating car, truck, bus and pedestrian delays at 11 rail crossings along the 2.1-mile route.

"The Bush administration is working aggressively to make our transportation dollars go further and bring the benefits of these projects to motorists and our economy faster," said Peters. "This project will move traffic, make roads safer, improve air quality and put Reno on a fast track to roll with the rapidly expanding economy."

Peters said the project is using a relatively new construction approach called design-build contracting, a streamlined process that combines the design and construction phases instead of separating them as is the norm in traditional design-bid-build contracting. Since 2002, FHWA has allowed and encouraged design-build contracting in federal-aid highway and bridge projects such as ReTRAC. The approach saves time and money because it allows contractors to more efficiently utilize equipment, schedules and work forces.

According to the project sponsor, the ReTRAC project has created 5,000 jobs in the area and is estimated to have a $360 million impact on the local economy. Without the project, idling vehicle delays are projected to more than double from 188 hours to 473 hours per day. Once complete, vehicle emissions will be reduced as a result of decreased automobile idling, and the potential for accidents will decrease by separating trains from automobiles and pedestrians.

The Reno corridor is part of a primary East-West rail line. Approximately 15 trains, mostly freight, travel the line each day. It is anticipated that approximately 34 trains will travel each day through Reno on two mainline tracks at greater speeds compared to when trains crossed at ground level. The increased train capacity will help spur economic development opportunities in the region, including Nevada's warehousing industry.

"With the economy booming and record levels of cargo moving across the country, projects like this are vital to helping move the American economy," said Peters.

Part of the ReTRAC project is financed through a DOT innovative financing program that includes a blend of public and private sources for approximately $70 million in credit assistance. The project is proceeding on time and within budget.

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