Lanes of Vegas-Salt Lake City freeway may reopen

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By KEN RITTER

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Road crews were making progress toward re-opening a washed-out stretch of Interstate 15, a transportation official said Thursday, while property damage from flash flooding earlier this week was being assessed in nearby Moapa Valley and an adjacent Indian reservation.

Workers hoped to open one freeway lane in each direction by Friday afternoon to get traffic moving again along the busy truck and tourist route connecting Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, Nevada Department of Transportation spokeswoman Julie Duewel said.

The patched-up road might be able to carry only passenger vehicles, Duewel said. Long-haul trucks might still be detoured onto two-lane highways on a roundabout route through Panaca, Nevada, and Cedar City, Utah.

Oversized loads are banned altogether.

The round-the-clock road work came after flash flooding Monday destroyed a stretch of I-15 around Exit 90 near Moapa. More than 4 inches of rain fell in less than two hours in the hard-baked desert hills.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has declared a state of emergency in the area due to damage.

The damage assessment involving Glendale, Moapa and the Moapa Band of Paiutes reservation came after officials tallied 48 damaged homes in the Overton and Logandale areas downstream on the Muddy River, Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said.

No dollar estimate was immediately available.

Residents can report flood damage through a phone hotline, 702-455-5717.

County lawmakers will be asked Tuesday for an emergency declaration clearing the way for the region to receive state and federal relief funds.

The flooding also damaged a Union Pacific rail freight line and swelled a river so high that Zion National Park in Utah was briefly closed.

The storm, spawned by the remnants of Tropical Storm Norbert, dumped heavy rain throughout the Southwest and set a single-day rainfall record Monday in Phoenix.

Duewel said it could take several weeks to fully repair the damaged stretch of I-15. The interstate usually carries about 20,000 vehicles a day.

Authorities have opened a serpentine detour between Exits 75 and 93 through Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park to passenger cars, buses and recreational vehicles.

Trucks were detoured to U.S. 93, Nevada State Route 319, and Utah State Route 56.

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