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Bidding begins for second phase of V&T restoration
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Bidding begins for second phase of V&T restoration
« on: Sep 19th, 2007, 9:45pm »
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TRAINS:  CARSON CITY, Nev. - Officials with the Virginia & Truckee Railway reconstruction project started taking bids Sept. 11 for work on track that will carry tourist trains 18 miles from Virginia City to Carson City. According to the Nevada Appeal, the 4 1/2-mile section is expected to cost about $7 million and will run from American Flat in Storey County south to Mound House in Lyon County. About 1 1/2 miles from Gold Hill to the Overman Pit was finished in 2005.
Bidding was scheduled to start in late July, but confusion over paperwork with federal transportation officials delayed the process. Delays like this have been common in the project, in part because before any land can be built on, the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway has to buy the land, have it donated, or get it through eminent domain. After that, workers have to make sure that the site is compliant with state and federal standards.
The Commission also wants to buy the existing Virginia and Truckee Railroad Co., a tourist line that runs a 2 1/2-mile private railroad from Virginia City south to Gold Hill. In 1996, the V&T Railroad Company won a contract to operate the entire new railroad from Virginia City to Carson City. Last year, however, commissioners chose California's Sierra Railroad to operate the railway, saying the project was too big for the V&T Railroad. Tom Gray, son of V&T owner Bob Gray, has said in interviews and at past meetings that the commission was trying to push his father's company into an unfair deal, the Appeal reported.
Reconstruction of the V&T Railway is funded by state grants, private donations, and revenue from room and sales taxes in Carson City and Storey County. It is expected to cost $54 million and be finished by 2011. About $40 million has been raised so far, including $21 million from Carson City. Since work started in 2004, the completion date has been pushed back two years and estimated costs have risen by millions of dollars.
The original Virginia & Truckee was built to serve the silver mining communities of Nevada. At its height, the railroad's route ran from Reno south to Carson City. There the main line split into two branches. One branch continued south to Minden, while the other branch headed east to Virginia City. The first section from Virginia City to Carson City was constructed beginning in 1869 to haul ore, lumber, and supplies for mining the Comstock Lode. The railroad would decline with the mining industry. The Virginia City line was abandoned in 1938, and the entire railroad in 1950.
Much of the V&T equipment was purchased by Hollywood studios and were used in Western movies, and eventually ended up in museums. Nine of the original locomotives survive today - four in Carson City at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, three in California, one in Pennsylvania, and one still privately owned by a movie studio.


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