Manufacture of V&T license plates could start in May

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Close to 300 applicants are waiting for V&T license plates and production could start as early as May, according to Janice Ayres, member of the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railroad.

"Some artistic changes are being made by the Department of Motor Vehicles to accommodate law enforcement," Ayres said. "As soon as we agree on a plate, they will start producing it."

If promoted and marketed properly, these plates will provide a tremendous source of revenue for reconstruction of the V&T Railroad's historic route from Gold Hill to Carson City, Ayres said.

The license plates, which can be obtained through the Department of Motor Vehicles, cost an extra $61 over registration costs. Of that fee, $25 goes to the railroad commission. Renewal will cost an extra $30, with two-thirds of that going to the railroad project.

Once the project is completed, the money will be dedicated to maintenance and for those who don't want regular plates, souvenir plates will be available.

"We're getting requests for license plate reservations from all over the United States," Ayres said. "The project will receive all of the money for out-of-state plates and that will be our cash cow. We attended the rail fair in Sacramento and collected thousands of names, of people interested in purchasing these plates."

With property acquisition, construction, and the purchasing and restoration of equipment still to come, the $24.4 million project is expected to take two years to complete. Reconstruction costs may be high, but the projected economic benefits should easily out-strip the price tag, according to project supporters.

The commission's regional impact study shows construction of the railroad will add $40.9 million to the regional economy, a number the study says is equal to 885 full-time jobs, for just the two construction seasons. After the first ticket is sold, the study says, the region will benefit from increased ridership on the train that now runs between Virginia City and Gold Hill during the summers. Spending by the new passengers alone could generate $16.5 million a year.

Ayres said others are stepping up to the plate to provide funds.

The Union Pacific Railroad is looking at a proposal to donate rails and equipment for 17 miles of line and Gov. Kenny Guinn is considering funding part of the project with $2 million from his 2003 budget.

With the passage of Senate Bill 334 in May 2001, the organization's board, once known as the Tricounty Railway Commission, evolved into the Northern Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway. Four new members were named to the board for a total of nine members from Carson, Lyon, Storey, Douglas and Washoe counties.

Built between 1869 and 1872, the V&T Railroad supplied the mines of Virginia City with material and transported ore to the mills in the valley below. Constructed by private investors to facilitate the movement of ore to the processing mills along in the Carson River, the Virginia & Truckee Railroad became known as the only railroad ever to carry its entire weight of locomotives, track and equipment in silver.


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