Jesse Houdlette yearns for the day he can use the new freeway for his 45-minute daily drive between home in north Reno and work in Carson City. He's expecting the bypass will shave five to 10 minutes off his commute.
From most angles, the freeway from Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50 East looks complete, with skid-mark-free asphalt and new mileage signs.
But on-ramp signs on East College Parkway are marked "Closed," something commuters may have to longingly stare at for several months more. Carson City has been promised a freeway for more than 30 years.
"It's been a tease," said Houdlette, executive chef at Mulligan's restaurant and sports pub. The Highway 50 freeway ramp is a welcome neighbor to the restaurant.
Nevada Department of Transportation officials won't pin down an exact date as to when they plan on opening the freeway, which will be called Highway 395. Carson Street will then be Business 395.
The work contract ends in April. NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said it will be done before then.
"They still have some rails and safety improvements to make in areas where traffic will be," Magruder said. "We have to make sure storm drains are operational. We have to make sure the lighting and signs are operational before opening. Signals at the interchanges must be operational."
NDOT plans to host a "walk along the freeway" before the opening. A storm warning message board still has to be installed. Magruder said many of these things can be done with traffic on the freeway, but not the safety-related improvements.
Houdlette said about four other restaurant employees commute and plan to use the freeway.
"We've been looking forward to it now not only for our own sake of commuting to work but also just for helping the overall flow of traffic in town," he said. "And it will bring more business over to our neck of the woods."
Phase one of Carson City's freeway construction project from Highway 395 at Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50 East cost $120 million.
The second 4.9 miles of freeway, from east Carson south, is in preliminary design. Construction should begin in mid 2006 on the roadway between Highway 50 and Fairview Drive. Completion of the full freeway is scheduled by 2010.
The interstate under construction in Washoe Valley will connect with Highway 395 at the north end of Washoe Valley. It is scheduled to be completed in 2009. The whole length will be called I-580.
- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.