Drivers passing the Bowers Mansion cutoff at the north end of Washoe Valley might have noticed a strange-looking wooden slat fence going up on the west side of the freeway.
It’s an experiment to determine whether a snow fence can help keep the freeway clear during winter storms, said Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder.
There are several places along U.S. Highway 395 through Washoe Valley where high winds out of the west can create whiteout conditions by blowing snow across the road. That not only impairs visibility but often leaves drivers a very icy stretch of road to navigate, Magruder said.
He said similar snow fences have been erected in Wyoming and near Elko and have proved very effective in reducing the amount of snow that reaches the road. He offered a picture of a similar fence near Elko showing how the snow collects around the base of the fence.
The 1,400-foot stretch of wooden snow fence should be completed by next week and is designed to withstand even the winds Washoe Valley endures during bad weather, Magruder said.
“This is an experiment. We want to see how they work over the next couple of years, then maybe look at expanding,” he said. “Long term, we would like to look into wind fences throughout the entire corridor.”
He said he couldn’t give a specific cost because it’s part of a larger contract, and the fence itself wasn’t broken out. He said, however, a wooden slat fence couldn’t be that expensive.