Boulder City Bypass Project Complicated by Discovery of Naturally-Occurring Asbestos

A major construction project near the Boulder City area will be delayed due to the discovery of naturally-occurring asbestos along sections of the proposed bypass.  The state is slowing construction in order to conduct a more thorough study of the area around the asbestos and to examine its potential harmful effects.

The bypass project construction

The project was initially an effort to construct a 15-mile bypass that would wrap around Boulder City.  The project was designed to divert and control freeway traffic in an effort to minimize congestion.  Other parts of the project include a frontage road, but the Transportation Department cancelled the contract due to the uncertainty surrounding the entire construction project.  The frontage road would involve the movement of a large amount of dirt that could potentially agitate asbestos particles in the dust.  Asbestos exposure is known to cause many serious illnesses, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

The discovery of asbestos

The asbestos was found in the soils of a section of the 15-mile bypass.  According to John Terry, assistant director of the state Transportation Department, the department’s earlier environmental studies did not reveal the presence of the asbestos.  It was not until later in December last year that a group of UNLV researchers discovered the asbestos and reported it.  Terry remarked that they “have never dealt with this before.”

However, Terry assured the public that the Transportation Department was quick to act after the findings, assembling a task force to assess the threat and determine an appropriate way to move the project forward.  With the significant potential health risk that could be posed to both workers and residents of both Boulder City and the surrounding areas, the task force will have plenty of issues to examine.

Governor Brian Sandoval detailed that the discovery “was a bombshell that was dropped” when addressing the state Transportation Board.  Governor Sandoval chairs the Transportation Board, and commented that “this could be a show stopper.”

Next steps

The task force has identified a strategy to deal with the asbestos issue and attempt to continue work on the bypass construction.  The first step is to hire an expert to conduct additional soil testing to gain a more complete picture of the magnitude of the asbestos threat and detail the asbestos concentrations in potential construction areas.  The Transportation Board has already preauthorized $400,000 to spend towards hiring a consultant for the study.

Also, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada has hired its own consultant to corroborate the findings.  Tina Quigley, the general manager of the commission, stated that the consultant also discovered naturally occurring asbestos, but only in two of ten holes surveyed.  The commission plans to survey 200 holes at a cost of $259,000 in order to determine if the asbestos concentrations are high enough to cause harm to the public.  As of now, there is no timeline on how long the project will be delayed.   However, additional testing is expected to take between four and eight months.

Contact an asbestos lawyer

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, you may be eligible for compensation.  Contact an experienced asbestos lawyer today.


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