South bypass redesign still leaves Washoe Tribe with concerns

Despite design changes for the interchange at the south end of the Carson City freeway, the Washoe Tribe is still concerned about the project's potential effects on a cemetery and homes.

"The Washoe Tribe is working with the Department of Transportation and relevant federal agencies regarding concerns the tribe has about the impacts of the project," said tribal legal counsel Tim Seward of Gardnerville.

Meanwhile, Carson City developer John Serpa, whose property was condemned for the interchange, said he does not intend to speculate on what the changes will mean for his property.

Design changes announced Thursday would eliminate proposed frontage roads east and west of the highway, which would eliminate access to Serpa's other property.

"I've been hearing all kinds of things for 13 years. Nothing would surprise me," Serpa said. "I try not to get too excited about anything I hear."

In September, a jury awarded Serpa about $5.8 million for property the Nevada Department of Transportation condemned. The $20-per-square-foot award was almost triple what an NDOT appraiser had determined was fair market value.

The high cost of that acquisition forced the department to take another look at its plans for the intersection, department director Tom Stephens said. As that was happening, the department also unsuccessfully appealed the award to District Judge Michael Griffin. NDOT then took its case to the Nevada Supreme Court, which has not ruled.

The latest proposal brings up two other issues since the frontage roads were proposed.

One was the tribe's concerns that the design would harm a historic Washoe cemetery to the southeast of the interchange and tribal members' homes. There was also concern for the old Stewart Indian School farther east.

Another issue is that frontage roads running south to Jacks Valley Road in Douglas County would hurt several businesses.

"As the design plans for the project have changed in the past year, so the impacts are somewhat changed," Seward said.

He said those changes are the subject of continuing discussion with federal and state agencies.

One business owner near the proposed interchange said an earlier frontage road proposal would severely limit access to her business.

Jody Kynett, who owns Carson Tahoe Self Storage on Old Clear Creek Road with her husband, Lee, said there would have been no access to that road from Highway 395.

"People would have had to drive south almost to Target to get to us or to Fuji Park," Kynett said Friday.

The plan now would keep Clear Creek Road east and west of Highway 395 connected with the highway, with a traffic signal installed at the intersection.


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