[Editor’s note; For a full slide show including drone camera pictures go to this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ3Px9GYOnI
Less than a year ago, Mesquite city officials were soliciting bids for the construction of a new I-15 interchange that had been on the wish list for 10 years. That wish came true July 21 when the ribbon was cut and Exit 118 became a reality and the road to what many call Mesquite’s economic future opened to traffic.
To get a sense of what the new interchange means to increased business in Mesquite, Mayor Al Litman told the Mesquite Local News “just look around at all the building pads ready to go with a new freeway ramp that provides direct interstate access. It’s going to be a new start for Mesquite business-wise. The sky is the limit. Las Vegas is so desperate for industrial land. We have a lot of it.”
“Our main challenge was the schedule and trying to finish this project in seven months,” Jed Wheeler, project manager for Meadow Valley Contractors, told the MLN. Meadow Valley was awarded the $14.7 million contract for the new interchange last December. “Usually it takes a year at least to build a bridge. We worked a lot of overtime to meet the schedule.”
Wheeler added that a tunnel bridge had never been built on the entire length of I-15 before and “that was our other major challenge. It was a first for NDOT and us and the city of Mesquite. We all came together and made it work.”
Wheeler is most proud of the conveyor system his company used to move over 200,000 cubic yards of fill dirt from the north side to the south side burrowing under the interstate. “That system could have broken at any time and really slowed things down. But we greased it up and ran it for a month without any hiccups. And we really saved a lot of wear and tear on the existing roadways.”
During the opening ceremony speeches Wheeler teased Travis Anderson, City of Mesquite engineer and project liaison about what construction workers may have buried in the bridge. Wheeler, who lives in Logandale, played upon the high school football rivalry between Moapa Valley Pirates and Virgin Valley Bulldogs saying “somewhere in this bridge is a pirate cast into the concrete. Then Travis who’s from Mesquite told me he was going to withhold all our contract payments. I promised him there wasn’t a pirate.”
Wendy Kinney, RSC General Manager for Do It Best Corporation, said “I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this new interchange. We’ve been waiting 10 years for this. Every week we receive approximately 35 to 50 trucks full of merchandise in our warehouse. In addition, we send out about 48 trucks of merchandise to our member-owners. Over the course of a year, we have approximately 6,800 trucks either coming or going that will now be able to use an interchange designed with tractor-trailers in mind. It will save us a lot of time and money.”
The Do It Best warehouse is an anchor tenant in the Mesquite Technology and Commerce Center (MTCC).
Fred Ohone, Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) Deputy General Manager for Planning and Engineering, told the MLN that the Exit 118 project is “one that we have been looking at for years. As a result of the fuel revenue index tax being passed we were able to come up with the funding to complete it. We are happy about the economic development that can result from this interchange. We have other projects on the list for the future contingent on the fuel index tax being renewed by voters this fall. Mesquite has been a great partner with us for several years and we look forward to continuing that partnership.”
Reflecting on the new gateway to the MTCC, Assemblyman Chris Edwards (R-AD19) said “I’m going to do everything the folks up here ask me to do expedite projects, companies coming in and meeting the needs of the community. I think this can be an excellent complement to the Faraday Futures project that’s starting up south of here. Faraday was the initial step at Apex but we anticipate it will spread out from there to areas like Mesquite and Moapa Valley. I’m also looking at the next legislative session to bring in more workforce dollars so we’ll have the people trained for the kind of jobs we may have.
“This is a game-changer for Mesquite,” Warren Hardy, city of Mesquite lobbyist told the MLN. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. This removes one of the two major concerns people have had about development in the MTCC. Certain types of businesses need this type of direct truck access that Exit 118 now provides. Once we get natural gas service, we will have knocked both of those major concerns down. We’re just going to keep the issues and opportunities in Mesquite in front of our elected officials throughout the state.”