State looking at splitting freeway phases

State officials are looking at a phased approach to the Carson City bypass.

Scott Magruder, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said Thursday freeway engineers are considering splitting the two-pronged approach to the freeway in an attempt to perhaps speed up the process.

"The goal is to keep the project moving," Magruder said. "We've got Phase 1A going. Phase 1B is supposed to go from Arrowhead to Highway 50, but maybe we can split those. Those are the things we're looking at. It's not only to insure that the project is on schedule, it may even speed the project up."

Despite recent controversy, state officials say there is no competition between the second phase of the Carson City freeway and the Interstate 580 project and that neither has a priority.

"That's just the way scheduling went," Magruder said. "There really was no priority."

Recent events, however, have questioned the state's commitment to Carson's needed-bypass.

Phase 2 of the Carson City freeway is the five-mile, $160 million southern freeway leg which will extend from Highway 50 East to the Spooner Summit Junction. The state owns about 75 percent of the right of way for the project, but Phase 2 has no committed funding source.

The nine-mile, $310 million I-580 extension is one of the state's two Northern Nevada super projects. It's the second most expensive super project in the state and competes for funding in the north with the state's other northern super project, Phase 2 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.

"One of the misconceptions is that all the sudden (the I-580) just came up, we inherited this," Magruder said. "We look at the whole state, we don't look at it like a competition. We're not in a competition. Carson will get a freeway. We're going to get the I580 done possibly before Phase 2 is done, but we will start construction on Phase 2 of the Carson freeway in 2004 or 2005 completion around 2007 or 2008. It's a very optimistic schedule. We've always been committed to the freeway."

Design for the I-580 through Reno to Washoe Valley dates to the 1960s. State officials say that when the state opened the last segment of the Highway 395 extension through Reno in 1996, the plan was to continue it to Washoe Valley. By the state's standards, they're behind on getting that finished.

The state has about acquired about 40 percent of the right of way needed for the ambitious I-580 project, which has one bridge which will cost about $43 million and will be the longest concrete arch span in the United States.

"(Completion of the I-580) in 2006 is a very aggressive and optimistic schedule," Magruder said.

The Nevada Department of Transportation has set up an information hotline and website for Carson City freeway information. The 24-hour hotline number is (775) 828-4797. Head to the web at


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