Highways Can Be Cool

The past few weeks have been incredibly exciting. My intern crew and I got to tour a highway construction site that is being built on BLM land. The highway is going to make the ride from Carson City, NV to Reno, NV incredibly faster, but there is no telling when the project will be completed. The construction of the highway is quite impressive with multiple bridges filling the gaps between various hills. My team was lead by a Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) Civil Engineer, who explained the project and answered any questions. I actually got to drive a vehicle over the uncompleted highway and bridges, which was nerve-racking to say the least. The driving was exhilarating, but became scary when my mentor told me that one of the support pillars for the bridge-seen in the photo below-fell over in the past.  Also, there were extremely high winds on the bridge, which made controlling our hard hats a very difficult task.

View of the new bridge from the valley below

The construction of the bridge involves a restoration component, where NDOT must develop a seed mix to restore the bare soil after all the havoc of the construction process is finished. I got to see the vegetation restoration progress by viewing hillsides that have been sprayed with a hydroseed mix at various points in the past ten years or so. I was glad to see a robust plant community that had developed on a hillside in just seven years after the hydroseed was applied after the construction.

 -Austin Rutherford


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