Fewer commuters than expected are using new freeway

Daily traffic counts on the new freeway in northeast Carson City are lower than what the Nevada Department of Transportation had expected for the 3.5-mile stretch of road.

The average daily traffic count on both directions of the four-lane freeway was 13,000 in March, the first full month it was open. Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said Tuesday that number is close to the 15,000 daily commuters projected to use the $120 million section of freeway.

The traffic was counted just north of the College Parkway ramps.

Magruder said the freeway is reducing traffic congestion on North Carson Street, particularly at College Parkway.

Transportation officials had predicted that fewer cars will make the left turn onto East College Parkway from southbound Carson Street after the Feb. 16 opening of the freeway. Magruder said a traffic counter will be put at that intersection.

"Those trucks that made that turn before are now choosing the freeway," he said.

Those who live or work on the east side of Carson will save up to 10 minutes on their commute to Reno. Traveling at 65 mph, motorists will bypass downtown congestion and the traffic signals on College Parkway. Dayton-area residents can travel on Highway 50, turn right on Graves Lane and access the freeway at the East College Parkway ramp.

NDOT will advertise for bids for the next phase of the freeway project in late summer or fall. The schedule was pushed back because of the time it's taking to move utility lines from the freeway bed. This $50 million section of freeway takes up from Highway 50 East to Fairview Drive in south Carson City. Three homes still need to be removed in the Fairview Drive area.

Traffic congestion in downtown Carson City is expected to ease considerably after the bypass is completed to South Carson Street at the base of Spooner Summit in 2010. Business owners and local leaders are looking forward to a more pedestrian-friendly downtown commercial area.

The Carson City bypass is the first freeway to be built in Northern Nevada in 10 years.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


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