Bids requested for historic trail center in Elko |

Bids requested for historic trail center in Elko

ELKO (AP) – Ten years in the making, the California National Historic Trail Interpretive Center took a significant step forward in Elko this week with the government’s formal request for bids to build it.

“We’re thrilled it’s gone out to bid. It’s been a long time,” said Mike Brown, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Elko office.

If all goes as planned, BLM will award the bid in late July or early August, Elko BLM Field Manager Helen Hankins said.

The 16,000-square-foot center will feature exhibits to tell the stories of the more than 300,000 people who passed through the area on the California Trail between the late 1840s and the 1860s.

The complex located on 40 acres about 8 miles west of Elko along U.S Interstate 80 will include an access road, parking and a 20,000-square-foot interpretive plaza. Plans call for completion in August 2008.

The project began as a grassroots effort in 1996, when local residents Paul Sawyer, Ralph Gamboa, Bob Pierce and Dale Porter proposed the idea.

“I think it’s testimony to patience, perseverance and an incredibly valuable partnership with the BLM and local city and county governments, the state and federal government,” Hankins told the Elko Daily Free Press.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. helped secure federal funding for the project.

“The California Trail Interpretive Center will teach Nevadans and tourists alike about our common history and the significance our great state had on the development of the West,” Reid said.

“It will not only bring jobs to Elko and rural Nevada, but it will make Elko a major destination for those interested in American history,” he said.

Reid helped push through legislation in 2000 authorizing construction of the center and has secured more than $8 million toward the project. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., sponsored similar legislation in the House.

The City of Elko committed $2 million and Elko County Commissioners committed $1 million in in-kind services for the project. The Nevada Legislature also has agreed to spend $3 million.

Hankins estimated construction costs at $7.5 million to $9 million, but the project also involved design work, site work and more. The land was donated by the William Searle family.

The bidding process continues for 45 days, and the BLM office in Denver will handle the process, Brown said.

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