Susan Martinovich has 22 years of experience with the Nevada Dept. of Transportation, but as its new director, she will need it to handle 5,400 miles of state highway, 1,000 bridges—and a $3.8-billion funding shortfall through 2015. 

Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) named the former chief transportation engineer to her new job Jan. 1, managing 1,700 employees and a $690-million annual budget. The money gap is fueled by tourism and growth, increasing road use with fewer tax dollars for new projects. While some 20 billion miles are traveled yearly on Nevada roads, that figure could increase 44.4% by 2010, says Martinovich, a civil engineer.

To stay on budget, DOT is cutting its $130-million-a-year pavement maintenance program 61.5% over the next three years and may transfer some road upkeep to municipalities. A task force also suggests earmarking Nevada’s $486-million budget surplus for highway construction and raising fuel taxes and fees to bridge the funding gap. “We’re now working with some legislative senators interested in pursuing private/public partnerships,” adds Martinovich, former vice chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. 

The appointment follows former DOT director Jeff Fontaine’s Dec. 11 move to become executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties. DOT chief since 2003, he last year came under fire for the delayed Galena Creek Bridge project. The agency released contractor Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc., Plain, Wis., after paying 58.6% on a $79.5-million contract. The bridge will finish four years late as part of the remaining leg of the Interstate 580 extension. It drew only two bids, with the lowest 19.1% higher than the engineer’s estimate.