Transportation officials OK freeway bike path

With little conversation, the State Board of Transportation backed an agreement between Carson City and the Nevada Department of Transportation that promises a hiking/biking path and some landscaping features will be included in the construction with Phase 1 of the Carson City freeway.

"I think we're saving a substantial amount of our tax dollars as a result of the way this was handled," Gov. Kenny Guinn said.

However, Guinn added as a caveat to the agreement that when the complete freeway is finished, Carson City should take over maintenance of Carson Street.

Guinn also said when the Interstate 580 connection between Mt. Rose junction and Washoe Valley is finished, Washoe County should assume responsibility for Highway 395.

"We can't operate two roads right next to each other," Guinn said. "We'll spend ourselves out of business. At the end of this, Carson City should come back and have their Main Street, which belongs to them."

Mayor Ray Masayko seemed a little surprised by the addition to an agreement which the city's Board of Supervisors approved Sept. 7.

"I can't speak on the additional condition added, but I don't think Carson City has any problems taking over the city's portion of the highway when the bypass is done," Masayko told transportation board members. "If we want to put a stoplight on Carson Street, we won't have to rattle around the halls of NDOT. You're taking responsibility and control of a great project. We're here showing our acquiescence and willingness to enter into a future agreement."

Guinn and Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa also noted that recent "attacks" from the media and city officials on Nevada Department of Transportation staff, including Director Tom Stephens and Assistant Director Susan Martinovich, were undeserved.

"A public apology is in order," Guinn said. "If they won't apologize, I will."

State transportation officials approved the agreement in concept because Martinovich said there are a few details left to be worked out. Masayko said as far as he is concerned, the agreement the state approved, minus the governor's suggestion regarding Carson Street, is virtually the same as the supervisors approved.

"There are no show-stoppers here," Masayko said.

The agreement between the city and the state promises the construction of the 3.8 mile path along the freeway from Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50 East and will also provide soil on the freeway that will support low maintenance, native vegetation.

In return, the city agreed to build and maintain 11 acres of wetlands, provide city land as a potential trade for part of the property owned by the Lompa family south of Highway 50 East, provide all maintenance and security for the multi-use path and place and maintain landscaping along the freeway and in the interchange/grade separation areas.

"We have come a long way in regards to this project," Del Papa said. "It is a good day for Carson City. It took a lot to get here."

The state's agreement, however, doesn't include a provision for the multi-use path to cross Highway 50 East with the freeway.

Former Carson City resident Sue Newberry, an active pedestrian advocate, was the only to resident to speak against the proposal.

"I'm amazed that you so readily accepted a proposal that does not include a trail that goes all the way down the freeway," Newberry said. "Nevada leads the nation in pedestrian deaths. There is a price to (these) compromises. We're still doing things the same way we did 50 years ago in relation to pedestrians."

Del Papa countered that while the entire board is interested in quality of life issues like the path, "sometimes there has to be a compromise.

"This is it in light of the cost overruns on the project," Del Papa said. "All of us are having to live with these compromises. We are forced to make very tough decisions because of our limited resources. We need to represent in the whole state and the reality is, 70 percent of our population is in the southern part of the state."

Carson City must revise its version of the state bike plan as part of the agreement. City Manager John Berkich said the city plans on starting a public process soon to gain input on where the path south of Highway 50 East should go.


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