Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada are currently the only two U.S. cities in close proximity of each other with populations over 1 million people that aren’t directly connected by a major interstate highway, but a new interstate project between the cities is working to change that. The interstate, I-11, is projected to be a three-year-long project costing $318 million that will eventually connect Canada and Mexico through multiple U.S. states. This past August saw completion of Phase II of the project, the Boulder City Bypass—a 12.5 mile stretch of highway featuring public art on roadsides, a scenic outlook of Lake Mead, four wildlife highway undercrossings, and 11 bridges, one of which is the largest wildlife crossing bridge in Nevada.
While the scope of the Boulder City Bypass is impressive enough alone, it’s the aesthetic aspect of this project that really makes it stand out. Traveling along this stretch of I-11 that connects US-93 to US-95, drivers will notice works of public art on roadside display in addition to images of the iconic bighorn sheep cast into the panel walls comprising the wildlife bridge. This bridge is the largest of its kind in Nevada, providing a way for the bighorn sheep of the Mojave Desert to safely cross the highway, and it was a unique opportunity for Tensar to work in collaboration with Las Vegas Paving Corporation to add these impressive features to the project.
After soliciting bids from several contractors, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada awarded the contract to Las Vegas Paving Corp., who selected Tensar's NDOT-approved ARES® Retaining Wall Systems as the MSE wall panels for the bridge construction projects along the Bypass. The ARES system is designed to last 100 years and allows for more locally-sourced backfills than what other systems can accommodate thanks to the fierce tensile strength of the panels' high-density polyethylene reinforcing. The system also satisfied the project's need for masonry-style rock wall panels with unique protruding grout lines that mimic the rock of the area's natural desert environment. These additions required immense attention to detail, making the Boulder City Bypass a major feat of construction and design and helping the project win the 2018 Civil Project of the Year award from a partnership between VEGAS INC and the Nevada Contractors Association.
In addition to helping reduce traffic congestion from the approximately 34,000 vehicles that travel through Boulder City daily, the Boulder City Bypass is expected to improve safety and create an estimated 4,000 jobs for the region. Tensar is proud to have played a part in this monumental project by providing the MSE wall panels for the bridges, adding not only a functional element to the project but creative visuals as well. Eliminating corrosion concerns about the retaining wall by using 100% polymeric soil reinforcement, ARES Retaining Wall Systems will provide safe, sturdy, and environmentally friendly retaining wall solutions for the Boulder City Bypass for years to come.
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