Starting Thursday, Carson City will no longer be a state capital without access to a freeway.
Some commuters will shave several minutes off their daily commute by avoiding Carson Street with the opening of the $120-million Carson City Freeway. Others will evaluate the mileage and decide to stay on Carson or other surface streets.
The Nevada Department of Transportation projects that 15,000 commuters a day will use the North Carson freeway.
"Daily commuters coming to Carson City are going to have a big relief," said resident engineer Stephen Lani.
Traffic on Carson Street south of William Street is expected to drop slightly after the freeway opening, a city official said Thursday.
NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said daily congestion at the Carson Street and College Parkway intersection will be eased with 15,000 fewer cars, a decrease of 43 percent.
Car counts on Stewart and Roop streets are not expected to change. Saliman Road traffic is projected to increase by 2,000 cars a day because of its proximity to the Highway 50 East interchange, said Harvey Brotzman, Carson City Regional Transportation Commission engineer.
After the novelty wears off, many commuters coming from South Carson, Gardnerville and Minden will stick to Carson Street, said Jim Gallegos, NDOT project manager.
"I don't think it'll be any faster coming from Gardnerville or Minden," he said.
"I think it'll take commuters about two weeks to decide on which route they are going to take."
He said commuters from the east will benefit the most from the first phase. Dayton-area residents can travel on Highway 50, turn right on Graves Lane and access the freeway at the East College Parkway ramp. Traveling at 65 mph, motorists will bypass downtown congestion and the traffic signals on College Parkway.
Though the freeway solves, in part, the traffic problem, it brings others. A few early morning vandals left a reminder of the cost of urban progression. The scrawling gibberish on a barrier rail near the College Parkway interchange was painted over Thursday afternoon.
Before commuters get their chance Thursday, sneaker scuffs will mark the route. More than 100 runners and walkers will be participating in the 5K and 10K fun run/walk starting at the Highway 50 East northbound ramp on Saturday. Visitors will acquaint themselves with the first four-mile asphalt roadway to ever rise above the capital city, and the first freeway built in Northern Nevada in 10 years.
Ron Burke, of Carson City, will be one of those runners huffing down and up the freeway. The 56-year-old chemist with the Nevada Department of Transportation is running the 10K in honor of 14-year-old David Sullivan, his daughter-in-law's brother, who committed suicide last month.
"I never really got the chance to know him," Burke said Thursday. "I have dedicated races to other people. Judging from reading his obituary and attending the memorial service, he accomplished quite a lot of things, even at 14."
In the pocket of his running shorts, Burke will carry a plastic medal depicting the cross and a remembrance card given out at the teen's memorial service. Wearing a white "Team Burke" T-shirt and his Saucony running shoes, Burke will carry the small memory of David Sullivan.
Burke runs 15-20 races and 1,500 miles in a year. For this run, Burke's feet will pound against asphalt that he had tested in his lab. This grandfather and 19-year NDOT employee is hoping to finish the freeway run in an hour and a half.
-- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.
If you go
WHAT: Freeway 395 opening event, includes a 5k and 10k fun run/walk
WHERE: On the new freeway, starting on the Highway 50 East northbound ramp
WHEN: Runners take off at 9 a.m. Saturday. Freeway is open to visitors until noon
Cost: Free. Open only to those on foot, bicycle or other non-motorized vehicles
PARKING: Mulligan's restaurant and sports pub, 2300 Highway 50 East; Piñon Plaza, 2171 Highway 50 East
WHAT: Ribbon cutting ceremony
WHERE: Business 395 southbound entrance near Lakeview Hill
WHEN: 2 p.m. Thursday
Phase 1 will open to traffic sometime after the ceremony