Bypass should have priority

Mark us down as solidly in favor of putting Carson City's bypass ahead of the Interstate 580 project for highway priorities in Northern Nevada.

Call us biased in favor of Carson City, if you will, but it makes a lot more sense to make the bypass functional than it does to extend an interstate from Reno through Washoe Valley.

The idea came up last week as the State Board of Transportation was laying out funding plans for the next five years. State Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, suggested that transportation officials take a look at the relative merits of the two projects.

"I think it's a fair debate to have at this time," Amodei said. "We know that 'super project' funds are not unlimited."

The nine-mile I-580 extension, which would bypass Highway 395 from the Mount Rose Junction through Washoe Valley, is estimated to cost $310 million. The five-mile southern leg of Carson City's freeway, from Highway 50 to the Spooner junction, would cost $160 million.

While there will no doubt be some traffic studies between now and September, when the Transportation Board may take up the issue again, it seems obvious which section of the highway is needed most.

While Highway 395 through Washoe and Pleasant valleys is busy, Carson City is clearly the bottleneck. Traffic from Carson Valley or South Lake Tahoe - from south Carson City, for that matter - must have a way through.

The most compelling argument, however, remains the fact that the north end of Carson's bypass does little or nothing without the south end. Until the freeway is built from Highway 50 to the Spooner junction, congestion on Carson Street will only get worse.

Why build half a bypass when we could have a complete one? What good does it do to get motorists from Reno to Carson City if they run into traffic jam here?

Finish the Carson City bypass first, and then move ahead with I-580.


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