Garth Oksol, Project Manager for the SouthEast Connector, said Thursday that new concrete will be laid at the intersection of Sparks Boulevard and Greg Street by Friday night, and the closure that follows is for the safety of the public and construction crews while concrete hardens. He said the closure also allows for more work to be done on various components of the project by contractors Kiewit Construction before the reopening of the road on July 22.
“Because we have the opportunity, under this closure, Kiewit is going to also be doing a lot of additional work in that area so we can get it done sooner and get the intersection open sooner. They will be working on a lot of different aspects of the intersection,” Oksol said.
The SouthEast Connector is a long-term project addressing traffic congestion and motorist needs in the Truckee Meadows by constructing a 5.5-mile road from the intersection of Greg Street and Sparks Boulevard at the northern end, to South Meadows and Veterans parkways at the southern end. The road will be three lanes in each direction with two new signals at Mira Loma and Pembroke drives. The project broke ground in Sparks in February.
Oksol said though construction has been running smoothly, the public is unable to see the progress of the project. While lane closures remind the public of the work being done, Oksol said his team is working in a location that traveling motorists cannot see.
“They are still making wonderful progress,” Oksol said of the project as a whole. “Unfortunately for the traveling public, most of the activity is occurring south of the river so people driving by don't necessarily see the activity. If they look south they will see the crane and the drill rig but right now our focus is working on the foundations for the bridge south of the Truckee River.
“Right now we are working down there in an effort to get the foundations and columns ready for the steel girders to start showing up here by the end of the year. Then we will start on the south end of the bridge and work our way over to the intersection.”
Once Sparks Boulevard reopens on July 22, Oksol said there is not much left to finish on the intersection before he and his team move south to begin work on a pair of bridges, one over the Truckee River (Veterans Memorial Bridge) and one leading to the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility. Much of that work will come in September and October, according to Oksol, and the work will proceed south over the Truckee River, leaving Sparks resident and travelers without much to look at in the way of traffic controls.
“Once we get that part (Sparks Boulevard and Greg Street) open, then we are moving to the traffic signals, which are all going to be replaced and brand new,” Oksol said. “When those are on site, we will get those in. Then really we will start opening this intersection up piece by piece within the next month or two and we will be removing a lot of traffic control in that area so it won't be impacting the traffic very much.”
Oksol said that because there have been lanes open for traffic throughout the construction, the complete closures have been avoided for the most part. He said that having multiple lanes closed at once for the 10 days in July actually benefits motorists in the long run, given the length of the project.
“We understand the inconvenience that it creates to the traveling public,” Oksol said of the closure. “We are aware of that, and part of the reason we are doing this is because we reduced the amount of time that the traffic control is out there. Anytime we can do that, we are increasing safety for workers, for travelers and we are also decreasing the time the people are impacted with the lane closures and everything else. It is a bigger impact for a short duration of time.”