This decade's Carson Street work almost painless

Construction on Carson Street 10 years ago put Carson City into gridlock and put a crimp on downtown businesses.

This time around, though, business owners said the construction - which wraps up this week - has been considerably less traumatic.

Work on the $3.28 million overlay of the street from Hot Springs Road to Stewart Street was done from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. when most of the 43,000 cars a day that pass over Carson Street are gone.

"The last time we did this we got hammered," said Scott Magruder, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation. "Oh my God, it was just bad. It was one of those projects that made for a long summer. We did learn from the last project, though. There was just no way we could do that again. The car counts have increased by 6,000 or 7,000 cars a day. Closing Carson Street to one lane through downtown was basically impossible to do. Nighttime work was the only answer."

Jim Dempster, Carson Nugget assistant general manager, said the Nugget has more patrons in the daytime, and the evening work caused few problems for the casino.

"I personally didn't get any complaints from any of our clientele," Dempster said. "It was a major inconvenience last time. I remember watching equipment go down Carson Street 10 years ago, and I remember a lot of people complaining about it, not just here, but at the grocery store, the post office. I didn't hear anyone complaining about it this time. They made it as convenient as they possibly could."

Jim Duvall, assistant manger of Bob's Texaco at 705 N. Carson St., said the gas station closed early about 10 times, but "it wasn't any major inconvenience, all things considered."

Steve Bilyeu, chief executive officer Carson Station, said during the 1989 overlay project, Carson Station security officers had to monitor the construction to make sure access to the Station wasn't cut off.

"It's fair to say we hardly noticed the disruptions (this year)," Bilyeu said. "The traffic was handled so well. We were a lot happier this time. Now that we know that a contractor can do this well, we'll be looking forward to it in the future."

Frehner Construction Co., of Las Vegas, is the contractor on the project, which also includes the reconstruction of College Parkway from Highway 395 east to Hot Springs Road.

Larry Osborne, executive vice president of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce, said he received no complaints during this year's overlay project, versus 10 years ago when he received "two or three phone calls a day, sometimes more."

"It was constant disruptions 10 years ago," Osborne said. "We didn't know what was happening. You would go to work and your access would be blocked. Some businesses thought they lost thousands of dollars. The difference this year is between day and night. It's gone amazingly well. We have been very pleased to see. I wish they all went this smoothly."

Magruder said nighttime work is slightly more expensive than day work with the need for lights and crews working graveyard shifts, but "the benefits far outweigh the costs."

Magruder said some area residents questioned why the Highway 395 overlay project into Douglas County couldn't have been done at night as well. Travelers between Carson City and Douglas County have complained of up to 30-minute delays on the 11-mile, $10.4 million overlay project.

The project involves a different type of paving that can't be done exclusively at night, Magruder said. Traffic can't drive on the pavement after it's put down. The Douglas County project is scheduled to end in November. Work on College Parkway should be done by the end of October.


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