The Nevada Department of Highways was formed on March 23,1917 with a mission to surface what were often rutted dirt paths first forged by pioneers.
Highway construction of the time was an arduous undertaking through Nevada’s desert expanses, with teams of horses grading the roads.
In January 1919, the Department’s first construction project built a trestle bridge over the Humboldt River in Pershing County at a cost of $10,953. In the same year, a $72,000 project kicked off to build a concrete roadway from Reno to almost six miles south.
In the mid-1920s, the state’s 45-mile-per-hour speed limit was removed and replaced with a guideline to limit speeds to that of “sane and safe driving.”
In 1923, another vital source of transportation funding was forged as the state gasoline tax came into being as an important resource for developing the state’s transportation system.
In 1929, the last Nevada link of U.S. Highway 91 near Apex was oiled, providing a smooth highway from California across Nevada between the California and Arizona state borders. In later years, it would pave the way for Nevada’s busiest interstate, I-15, which now travels alongside the iconic Las Vegas Strip.
In 1931, a 124-foot long tunnel was blasted through Lake Tahoe’s Cave Rock to create a roadway, bypassing a previously harrowing drive alongside the lakeside rock face.
A traffic safety program was launched in 1936. Within two short years, the department’s driving safety literature and programs became so popular that 12 safety committees were formed across the state to spread the word.