Residents, businesses see freeway extension as mixed blessing

Residents and businessmen in the Washoe Valley, Pleasant Valley area generally see the Interstate 580 freeway extension as a mixed blessing.

Once open, Nevada Department of Transportation officials say as much as 70 percent of the traffic on Highway 395 will move to the freeway, greatly reducing the traffic on the old road.

Chris Jacobsen, who lives in what he described as a luxury home in Washoe Valley, agreed it will be a blessing for the residential areas along the current Highway 395 route. But Jacobsen, a consultant who advises businesses - primarily convenience stores - on where best to locate, said it will overall hurt the businesses in Washoe City. He said that applies especially to convenience stores, the gas station and businesses like the Chocolate Factory and Nevada Lynn Emporium which rely on impulse buyers seeing them and deciding to stop.

He said Paul Marazzo, owner of Washoe Flats restaurant - formerly the Cattleman's - may benefit because his is a destination rather than an impulse stop.

Marazzo is counting on that. He said when the trucks and other through traffic move to the new freeway, it will also make it much easier and safer for drivers seeking a nice dinner at the restaurant he and his brother, Lynn, operate. And, as the valley develops, he said he'll get more and more local business.

"We're very excited about it," he said. "We think it's going to be a big positive for the valley."

At the same time, he said the freeway will make it easier for people to come to his restaurant because they'll be able to take the freeway to Parker Ranch Road just south of the restaurant.

And in the meantime, he said the freeway construction crews are excellent customers.

Stephanie Couch who lives in the area and works at Nevada Lynn Emporium, said the freeway will "eliminate a lot of the bad traffic down here - the UPS drivers, the trucks."

She said traffic is the issue and she has been involved in efforts to get people to slow down through the valley.

"Every day we hear, 'I'm afraid to pull in here,'" she said. "It would be nice to turn this into a nice rural road."

Tyson Petty, manager of Old Washoe Station, the gas station and mini-mart to the north, made similar comments.

"Traffic is horrible," he said. "I've seen a lot of incidents of road rage out there and a lot of accidents. It's going to be welcome when it opens."

Couch and Petty both said their businesses may be hurt somewhat but neither thought the loss of traffic would put them out of business.

"It's definitely going to be a hit on us but not enough to put us out because we're still the only filling station between Reno and Carson City."

"And, along here, traffic is so bad it's actually hurting us," he said noting that people often feel they can't turn in without being rear-ended. "It's going to be a mixed bag."

"We might lose a few people," said Couch. "But I don't really think it's going to be a bad thing. It's the safety that's really important now."

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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