Brakes pulled on development of railroad

When the first passenger trains pull up to a new Virginia & Truckee Railway depot off Highway 50 East in 2010, tourists will look out over a former landfill and 150 acres of sagebrush, rather than an expansive commercial and residential development.

Lynn Hettrick, a former state assemblyman and president of RIDL LTD., said plans have stalled to complement the future depot with a casino resort and shopping center.

"We had the opportunity to have investors get involved, but the issue with the old landfill ended up running them all off, so we ended up without partners, which we needed to proceed," Hettrick said Monday.

Cleaning up the 13 acres, once used as a city landfill, could cost from $2 million to $5 million, an expense and long-term liability the investors weren't willing to make, Hettrick said.

The option to purchase 118 acres off Highway 50 East and Drako Way from owner John Serpa expired in October.

The Hettrick family owns 33 acres, broken into six parcels, between the highway and Astro Drive, which is near the location for the future V&T depot.

A mining museum and Chinese workers museum were also proposed for the area.

"We think it would be an asset for the train to have a viable development out there," he said. "That's what we were trying to do and it just didn't work out."

Hettrick said he still believes the project will work for a railroad that is set to steam into Carson City in 2010.

The $40 million V&T Railway will carry tourists from Virginia City to the depot east of Carson City.

A state commission in charge of the reconstruction of the historic right-of-way completed 1.8 miles of track from Gold Hill to American Flat, in Storey County.

The next phase of construction will go out to bid in spring.

Bob Hadfield, chairman of the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, said multiple attractions at the depot location would be the best for the overall tourist experience.

"I hope other investors would come forward," he said Monday.

"It is a difficult time right now, but Carson City would benefit from more hotel rooms."

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

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