When driving around Boulder City, especially when heading to or from the Henderson/Las Vegas area, the work on Interstate 11 is obvious.
While destined to be either a blessing or a curse for the city and its businesses — depending on your point of view — there is one thing that cannot be denied. The construction project is an engineering marvel.
I-11 is the first interstate that has been built nationwide since 1992, said Tony Illia, a spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Every aspect of the project has been meticulously planned down to each particle of dust. From the art deco style of the bridges to the natural look of the landscaping, the interstate has been engineered to look like it has been around since the construction of Hoover Dam.
During a tour Friday, details of the project and its highlights were showcased.
Seeing the work up close was fascinating and at times surprising.
Did you realized that not one bit of material has been removed from the site? With 8 million cubic yards of excavation required — 100 cubic yards is enough to fill 400 average-size swimming pools — this is quite an accomplishment.
The top soil was carefully set aside so it could be put back in place, and all rock and gravel are being used for landscaping or grading.
Boulders may appear to have been scattered along the edges of the interstate, but they have been placed to re-create the look of the land before work started.
Even the blasting through the mountains was carefully orchestrated. Done in 30-foot increments, creating benches and shelves, the explosives were placed so that there will be “no teeth marks in the rock,” said Steven Ireland of Las Vegas Paving Co., RTC’s primary contractor.
Everything was done to leave the area natural looking, he said.
Also, the majority of the plants that will be used in the landscaping are recycled. NDOT is replanting 20,000 cacti along its portion of the interstate and RTC has been working with the National Park Service for its landscaping.
According to Luis Palor, program management services for RTC, the Park Service removed plants from the area before construction began and kept them in its nursery in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This season, roughly 5,000 will be planted along the route.
Not only has flora been considered, so has the local fauna and wildlife.
Each person who visits the site must be properly educated by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife about the tortoises who call the area home. Basically, it’s as simple as if you see a tortoise, don’t touch it.
Natural migrations of the bighorn sheep — one made an appearance during the tour — were studied and special crossings were created to allow them to move throughout the area without getting harmed. Fences tall enough to prevent them from getting onto the interstate have been installed.
These tidbits are interesting and sure to capture some notice, but I think the one thing that what will truly attract attention is the spectacular view of Lake Mead that emerges as you head southeast toward Arizona.
Just at the top of the peak a scenic overlook is being created that offers one of the nicest views of the lake in the area.
No matter what your views and opinions about the bypass are, this is one view that’s definitely worth considering.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.