Fuel for Thought is a periodic newsletter of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC). The newsletter’s goal is to keep Southern Nevadans informed about the progress and accomplishments from their contributions to the Fuel Revenue Indexing initiative (FRI). Proceeds from FRI are funding 199 transportation projects throughout the valley and adding approximately 9,000 jobs over the next three years, helping to support our economic diversification and improving the quality of life for all Southern Nevadans. We welcome your input – please visit rtcsnv.com/fri to provide public comment.
Critical roads, bridges and public safety needs are being met across Southern Nevada, thanks to the Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI) initiative. FRI is funding 199 roadway projects and putting thousands of residents back to work as the region continues to recover from the Great Recession.
“Fuel Revenue Indexing is fulfilling critically important needs in our community,” said Clark County Commissioner and RTC Chairman Larry Brown. “Thousands of jobs are being created at a time when our jobless rate continues to be one of the highest in the nation, and our roadway network is being improved to meet demands for moving people and goods efficiently around the valley. Both are critical to our economy today and in the future.”
FRI, which the Nevada Legislature and Clark County Commission authorized in 2013, ties a portion of what motorists pay at the pump to inflation, costing the average driver about a dime a day. FRI will help keep pace with the cost of construction while putting people back to work around the valley. Groundbreaking events for FRI construction have taken place throughout Southern Nevada:
City of North Las Vegas (Watch the Groundbreaking Video)
City of Las Vegas (Watch the Groundbreaking Video)
City of Henderson (Watch the Groundbreaking Video)
It’s no surprise that small businesses are major drivers of Nevada’s economy. In fact, they comprise nearly 96 percent of all statewide employers and employ about 42 percent of the private-sector workforce - approximately 225,000 people, the majority of whom are residents of Southern Nevada, the state’s population center.
For one minority business owner, Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI) is helping her business grow.
Claire Kohatsu is the managing principal at Aztech Inspections and Testing, a small business that tests soil, asphalt and concrete to ensure they meet project specifications. Her firm also tests and inspects buildings under construction to be sure they are up to code. The firm was founded in 2009.
“We provide quality control, or quality assurance for public works projects or private development structures,” she explained.
When Claire first heard about Fuel Revenue Indexing, she knew something great was on the horizon. “It makes a lot of sense. Clark County residents pay just a little more at the pump so critical transportation projects can be completed. Its locals paying for local transportation needs and its putting people back to work. Fuel Revenue Indexing couldn’t have come at a better time."
“We had some large projects ending about the time we started on FRI work,” Claire said. Aztech worked on the Fort Apache Road traffic signal projects, both of which are scheduled to be completed in mid-August. And her firm is working on the 215 Beltway bridge projects at Fort Apache Road and Durango Drive in the northwest valley.
“The timing couldn’t be more perfect. It allows us to keep our staff working seamlessly,” she added.
Thanks to the extra work, Aztech is considering adding staff members in the field and in the lab. So, for Claire’s business FRI is working. “It is putting design engineers and construction folks back to work. For firms like mine, I love it that Clark County is in control. Everybody pays a little, but we get so much more in return.”
From a short-term business planning perspective, Claire said FRI “really gave us a lot of hope that there were going to be more projects generating work. For a long time, there was nothing on the horizon and seeing the whole (FRI) project list gave us hope that there’s work coming up and things are going to be OK.”
Las Vegas continues to recover from the Great Recession of 2008 but still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. FRI is helping to turn that statistic around, creating thousands of jobs in the construction industry and providing the foundation for a transportation infrastructure that will help support our region’s continued economic diversification.
“We are making progress,” said Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly. “FRI projects are putting people back to work at an important time in our community’s recovery. We need these jobs to improve our transportation system so goods, services and people can move more efficiently across the valley.”
During the recession, Kevin Littlejohn, a field engineer/quality control manager at Aggregate Industries and Las Vegas resident since 1992, was out of work for nearly three years until his former employer could rehire him.
“FRI has put me back in position to achieve one of my goals…to become project manager for the same (company) that had to lay me off,” added Littlejohn.
And, the icing on the cake: he was married three days after returning to work fulltime.
Nearly 70 percent of the 199 FRI projects are expected to be under contract by the end of 2014, including:
215 Beltway Work to help bring it to freeway standards by eliminating at-grade crossings that exist today and adding new bridges over the mainline to connect neighborhoods. Projects include improvements in and around the Airport Connector and bridges at Grand Montecito Parkway, Durango Drive and Fort Apache Road.
The Flamingo Road Project is scheduled to break ground this fall, improving traffic flow between Boulder Highway and Hualapai Way. The project will include dedicated bicycle/transit lanes, new bus shelters, traffic signal upgrades, enhanced landscaping, and safety improvements for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
Maryland Parkway will also receive FRI funding for continued design and an environmental impact study of plans to improve traffic flow, pedestrian access and adding dedicated transit lanes.