Pacifier in Carson City's mouth has a funny taste

Let me pull out the pacifier that was stuck in Carson City's mouth just long enough to provide a traffic update.

Last we spoke, our mayor, our governor and All The King's Men were glad-slapping each other over the election year "deal" Carson City got on its 30-year effort to get a bypass.

After lots and lots of back-room politicking, pandering and whatever else goes on behind closed doors in the name of taxpayers, Carson City was supposed to have gotten a "cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die" promise of a complete bypass around Carson City in eight to 10 years, depending upon who you speak with last.

I heard Mayor Ray Masayko speak to the Rotary Club not long after that "landmark" deal to explain that these things take time and that it isn't unusual for a bypass to take 30 or so years to build. He asked us all to be patient because he and the governor had it all worked out.

The mayor didn't provide much detail regarding the city's plans to ease traffic problems on Carson Street during the next eight to 10 years and beyond. Or how the city planned to finance maintenance of Carson Street after NDOT turns it over. He may actually believe that the bypass will solve our problems and that there really isn't much more a mayor can do but sit back and cut red ribbons.

Or, perhaps he has done the math and realized that in eight to 10 years the traffic on Carson Street will grow to the extent that even a bypass won't help much, but is waiting to reveal his plans until after the election.

There's this little thing called growth involved. Nevada's population is expected to double in the next 20 years. While Carson City 's portion of that will be relatively modest (another 7,000 or so residents), Douglas County will see its population balloon from 39,000 to 68,000 and Lyon County will more than double, from 30,000 or so to more than 74,000 residents.

It's safe to assume that a good chunk of those newcomers will want to drive and that their travels will take them down Carson Street.

Now imagine Carson Street in 2010, even with the bypass.

I bring all of this up for the umpteenth time because I got another four-page, slick and glossy newsletter from NDOT extolling the virtues of the I-580 Freeway project.

They are so proud of that project down at NDOT they have a newsletter named after it. In fact, it's the fifth edition in a series of propaganda on the freeway that will run from roughly Galena to Washoe Valley.

I don't recall ever getting a newsletter on the Carson City Bypass, but I'm certain that's just paranoia on my part. After all, the mayor struck a deal with the governor, NDOT and Washoe County, so why should I worry.

This latest news flash on the I-580 talks about the "flora" and "fauna" that will be protected from cement and vehicles during and after construction of the freeway. Fauna routinely become "road kill" when in contact with freeways, so NDOT engineers are doing their best to keep the fauna off the I-580. Flora, on the other hand, can be mitigated.

For a moment I thought I was reading a Sleeping Beauty sequel: "Flora and Fauna Meet NDOT."

There's also an entire page dedicated to the bike path the Washoe County project includes. That was interesting, considering NDOT's "what-do-you-want-a-bypass-or-bike-path?" attitude with Carson City.

"Recreational access is an important feature for the design team of this new freeway," reads the newsletter. "Maintaining trail access, providing safe crossings from one side of the facility to another, and allowing for future recreational development have been considered in the design."

The "deal" struck by Carson City and the governor doesn't include a bike path right-of-way for the southern half of the bypass. During a September meeting to discuss the agreement, Carson City Supervisor Robin Williamson voiced her displeasure. "I like you, but I'm not happy," she told NDOT assistant director Susan Martinovich. "I took up the fight for landscaping and path because I recognize what a change this will be for the people who live next door to the freeway. The multi-use path is something that humanizes it. When I took up the battle, it wasn't just for the north end, but the south end, too."

Sorry, Robin. You should have read your newsletter.

Scratch that. There wasn't one.

One resident spoke out against the deal during the NDOT board meeting. "I'm amazed that you so readily accepted a proposal that does not include a trail that goes all the way down the freeway," she said.

Attorney general and transportation board member Frankie Sue Del Papa countered by saying she is interested in quality of life (that's nice to know), but that there has to be compromises.

Especially if you're Carson City.

Masayko didn't seem too displeased with the agreement. Then again he doesn't think 30 years is really that long to wait for a bypass. "There are no show-stoppers here," Masayko told the state transportation board members after they stuck a pacifier in Carson City's mouth.

Show stoppers? Try saying that with a mouth full of pacifier.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher and editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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