Bypass reshapes Carson's business landscape

The announcement Tuesday of the sale of the Pinon Plaza hotel and casino was a rather dramatic illustration of the changing economic landscape in Carson City being wrought by the new bypass.

The Plaza was located to take advantage of the freeway, even though it has taken another dozen years for the highway to actually reach it. Fortunately, Clark Russell and his crew expanded the property successfully into a $14.5 million asset.

A national gaming corporation, Jacobs Entertainment Inc., will now take over what has become one of the pillars of the capital city's gaming industry. But the changes are likely to continue along Highway 50 East.

The freeway that was supposed to route north-south traffic around the bottleneck of Carson Street will, at least for the next four years, mainly connect north Carson City with the burgeoning Highway 50 corridor.

While the freeway now stops at Pinon Plaza's front door, it also creates a much more convenient loop for getting to businesses on the eastern side of Carson City and draws traffic from Dayton toward Carson's north side.

The increase in activity created by Wal-Mart off College Parkway is already evident - and the bypass hasn't opened yet. Where traffic flows, business will follow.

And don't forget the Virginia & Truckee railway terminal is not far in the distance. It will make eastern Carson City a destination like never been before.

What's that mean for the rest of Carson City?

Downtown still needs the second half of the bypass before truck traffic ceases to be a deterrent to shoppers and visitors. It will at least have a chance to redevelop its character as something more than a four-lane traffic jam.

The southern end of town also will benefit from completion of the freeway in 2010, but as the Russells proved on Highway 50, it will remain a vital part of the local economy with or without it.


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