Sometime in the next decade, travelers might be able to drive from Reno to South Lake Tahoe without stopping.
The route is called Interstate 580, and eventually will take the place of Highway 395 through Carson City.
The nine-mile, $310 million I-580 extension is one of the state's two Northern Nevada "super projects," and it's the second most expensive in the state. It competes for funding in the north with the southern phase of the Carson City freeway.
The two projects are the final links in the state's plan to turn Highway 395 into an interstate route.
The five-mile, $160 million southern freeway leg which extends from Highway 50 east to the Spooner Summit Junction has no funding source. While state officials have used 2007 as a time frame for completion, Tom Stephens, Nevada Department of Transportation director, said Thursday that "if everything goes ideally on the Carson City bypass, you can start construction in 2006."
Only preliminary design work has been done on Phase 2 of the Carson City freeway. The project has no committed funding except for about $13 million in preliminary engineering and right of way funds.
The I-580 project is nearly 60 percent designed, putting the design completion and bid date in mid-2001 - about the same time as Phase 1 of Carson's bypass, which is scheduled to bid in November 2001.
I-580 would run along the edge of the Sierra Nevada through the communities of Steamboat, Pleasant Valley and Washoe City.
State Chief Bridge Engineer Bill Crawford said I-580 has nine bridges that will cost about $95 million.
"A project like this doesn't come along very often," Crawford said. "For the most part, we do only freeway-type bridges, nothing as significant as this."
One of the bridges on the I-580 will be the longest concrete arch span in the United States, Crawford said. The bridge rise 300 feet above Galena Creek. The span of the arch will be 690 feet, and the bridge will be between 1,800 feet and 2,000 feet long. It will cost about $43 million.