It might not be fast enough for some Carson City residents, but work is proceeding on the next phase of the Carson Bypass project.
Stephen Lani, Nevada Department of Transportation resident engineer, says once this piece of the puzzle is completed, crews will be ready to pave the rest of the bypass from Fairview Drive south to Carson Street.
While the centerpiece of the $9.5 million project is the overpass that will carry Snyder Avenue over the future freeway, Lani said the majority of the work is drainage, reclaimed water handling and relocating utilities.
The most noticeable part of the project is the Voltaire Canyon Detention Basin on the east side of Carson Street. Once connected to a culvert going under Carson Street, that basin will handle up to 37 million gallons of drainage water in those rare cases when storms dump water down the canyon. During previous storms, Carson Street was often closed by water flowing over the roadway.
As with Koontz Lane and Clearview Drive, engineers decided it was cheaper and better to build an overpass carrying Snyder over the future freeway than to build the freeway over the streets.
That work has only impacted drivers who live in the path of the bypass. But installing the culvert under Carson Street will cause some disruption, Lani said.
Lani said the plan is to install the culvert on three consecutive weekends following Labor Day.
“It’ll be marathon weekends,” he said.
Carson Street will have three lanes each direction during the daytime but that will cut back to two and possibly one each way at night.
Eventually, a network of drains will take that water up past Fairview and into the city’s drainage system.
So much of the project centers on water and drainage that Lani described it as “a lot of water work with a little road on top.”
Currently, the construction site features a huge wall of dirt with a bridge abutment at each end. The Snyder overpass will be built atop that mound of dirt, which crews will later remove to make way for the freeway.
The other thing drivers exploring the area notice is how many existing streets have been cut in two by the bypass.
“There are going to be a lot of cul de sacs,” Lani said.
But he said most area residents don’t seem to mind because it will mean less through traffic past their homes.
Lani said crews also have done a good job dealing with construction dust — often a sore point with residents near a roadway project.
“We live in the desert. You can’t control everything all the time but they’ve done an extremely good job controlling construction dust,” he said.
In addition, all the utility work — from water and drainage to gas, power, telephone and cable — is included in the project. Finishing the job also includes repaving and repairing any of the streets damaged during construction.
Lani said the contract with Granite Construction requires the work to be done by March but that they are well ahead of schedule.
“The job is moving very smoothly,” he said “If we can catch a break on the weather, we will be done before the end of the year.”
Once the Snyder work is completed, NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said the bypass will be ready for the project that will actually build the freeway from Fairview south to Carson Street and the junction with Highway 50 up Spooner grade.
“We’ve bought all the property,” Magruder said. “The design is done. All the utilities are about done.”
Phase 2B3 will cost upward of $42 million but does not include the major interchange connecting the bypass to U.S. 395 south, Highway 50 and Carson Street.
Lani said for the time being, it will be a traffic signal instead of an interchange.
NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon has said he wants to award the 2B3 contract in 2015. The work will take two construction seasons to finish.
But when it is done, Magruder said traffic volumes on the south end of Carson Street will drop significantly. At present, he said there are about 50,000 vehicles a day using Carson Street south of Fairview.