DAYTON - The Virginia & Truckee Railroad restoration project would be a lot further along if a closer watch was kept for property along the route, according to one member of the project's governing board.
Tricounty Railway Commissioner Chuck Haynes on Thursday told fellow board members the agency needs to move immediately in efforts to purchase right of way before the opportunity is lost.
"We need to aggressively identify the right of way and inform all owners there could be a change in zoning," Haynes said. "Nobody is watching. No one is making any effort to protect it."
As an example, he noted the Bureau of Land Management recently built a structure on the railroad right of way in the Brunswick Canyon area.
"I can't believe the BLM built on the right of way," he said. "And no apparent effort has been made to look into purchasing property adjacent to the vacated Carson Building Supply building. That would be a perfect site for the terminal point. We should look into it before it is purchased."
The board has considered various sites as a possible location for the terminal station and turn-around point, but a final decision has not been made.
Carson City Mayor and commission member Ray Masayko said right of way purchases should not be pursued until a terminal site is selected.
"I have no desire to finalize the right of way (in the Carson City area) until a terminal site is selected," he said. "Let's work on what is already established and planned."
The most troublesome spot to establish a set route remains the Overman Pit near Gold Hill.
The Nevada Department of Transportation, in charge of overseeing federal funds for the project, is studying alternative alignments around the pit in efforts to find the most cost effective route.
State Senior Road Designer Dennis Coyle told the commission he will have plan specifications and estimated costs ready by the end of May for the most economical route to the east of the pit. Studies will continue on alternative routes to the west.
"I will have a set of plans ready so we can move forward if a more economical alternative route is not found," he said.
The state will continue working with Bureau of Land Management officials to complete the environmental assessment and cultural clearances along the proposed right of ways.
A 2.5-mile portion of the line between Virginia City and Gold Hill is completed and is operated by V&T Railroad owner Bob Gray. V&T employee Kim Fegert said he would be ready to begin work in June on a 1,300-foot extension to the Overman Pit area, if an alignment with the Gold Hill terminus can be determined by that time.