Which should come first: I-580 or complete Carson freeway?

Can you get to the AM/PM gas station in north Carson City faster from the Spooner Summit junction or from the Mount Rose intersection in Washoe County?

State Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, posed that question Thursday as a way to illustrate his belief that Carson City's bypass could be more important than an interstate highway from Reno.

His point: Traffic congestion through Carson City makes a six-mile drive longer than a 15-mile drive

The State Board of Transportation approved a $100 million bond Thursday and a preliminary plan which proposes to spend $2.5 billion over the next five years. About $18 million of the $100 million bond is committed to design and land acquisition for Interstate 580, the nine-mile $310 million extension which would complete Highway 395 between Reno and Washoe Valley.

Amodei questioned the use of scarce state dollars in a project that may not benefit users as much as relieving congestion through Carson City would. Amodei asked that in September the board listen to the pros and cons of I-580 and the southern phase of the Carson City freeway.

"I think it's a fair debate to have at this time," Amodei said. "We know that state super project funds are not unlimited.

"As the foremost projects in Northern Nevada, how do we plan on pursuing them, what funds do we want to dedicate to them in terms of guaranteed funding and what is the timetable for getting people around Carson City and to Carson City?

"We think there are some good facts that will speak for themselves. I'm comfortable letting the chips fall where they may. The folks in support of this project need to put their best foot forward."

Amodei also pointed out that Clark County would contribute $90 million to state transportation projects over the next five years, Washoe County $300,000, and Carson City would step up with $10.75 million.

"For a community of 50,000, nobody has been more committed to assisting to a project than Carson City," he said. "In terms of commitment by a local government, I think there's been a phenomenal amount of commitment from Carson City."

Amodei's comments spurred a discussion about which of the two Northern Nevada "super projects" should receive priority funding.

State Controller Kathy Augustine argued the two projects aren't competing, but created complimentary sections of a highway.

"If there's no way to get (travelers) anywhere from Highway 50, complimentary is not the word they'd use," Amodei countered.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said he'd like to see a traffic study by September that shows where traffic goes when it gets to Highway 50. While construction of the first phase of the Carson City freeway is under way, Guinn said he isn't sure the right portion is being built first.

"We need to find out before we come back in September which is the number one priority for the interconnected community from Mount Rose to Spooner Summitt," Guinn said. "We don't have enough money to do all the projects. We can't make everyone happy. I'm smart enough to think we don't have the money to do both. Where is this thing supposed to be built? That's all I want to know. Let's get our priority straight on which one is the most critical for safety, etc."

The State Transportation Commission will decide on 2001 statewide funding priorities in September.

The State Transportation Board also will decide whether to increase the budget for the first phase of the freeway from about $92 million to $136 million. The decision to increase costs for the freeway were delayed in May pending meetings between the governor and Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment