Bypass inching south as work continues

Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealChuck Harris, with Road and Highway Builders, packs up his tools Friday afternoon on the Fifth Street bridge area of the Carson Bypass.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealChuck Harris, with Road and Highway Builders, packs up his tools Friday afternoon on the Fifth Street bridge area of the Carson Bypass.

Area residents will begin to see some very visible progress on the bypass project over the next few weeks.

Project Manager Jim Gallegos said the frustrating traffic jams on Highway 50 under the bypass route will end within the month as crews finish widening the highway to six lanes from Humboldt to Lompa Lane. There will also be a dedicated left-turn lane in the middle of the roadway.

"There's just three to four weeks to go out there and we'll get all that cleaned up."

The $44.9 million project will extend the bypass south from Highway 50 to Fairview Lane and Gallegos said it's on schedule to open in about a year.

He said now the focus will shift to the bridges that will go over the freeway at Fifth Street but carry the freeway over Fairview.

"You're going to see a lot more work focused on Fifth Street in the next few weeks," he said. "There'll be a few detours so they can work on different parts of the realignment of Fifth Street. They're getting ready so they can make the bridge connections."

He said that will require a couple of weekend closures.

At Fairview, Gallegos said, work is also proceeding.

"In the next month or two, that bridge will start looking a lot more like a finished structure as they build the deck and start removing the fill."

"By the middle of fall, they may be actually doing some paving out there on the freeway itself," Gallegos said.

Work on this stretch of the bypass, which runs through the lowest part of the valley, actually began in the previous phase when contractors installed a system to drain thousands of gallons of water away and, eventually, to the Carson River. Just south of 50, that system centers on three 12-by-8 foot culverts now beneath the ground. They run south to just north of Fifth Street, then east to the Carson River.

Engineers have promised the Nevada Department of Transportation and Carson City that the system will go a long way toward fixing flooding that hits that area every time Carson City has a major rainstorm.

Road and Highway Builders of Reno has been working on the project for a year and the job includes finishing drainage that will carry water from south of Fifth Street up to that culvert and east to the river.

The first two phases of the bypass " from U.S. 395 at Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50 " cost about $120 million. The construction south to Fairview is another $45 million.

The final phase of the project " including a major interchange connecting the bypass to South Carson St., U.S. 395 south to Gardnerville and Highway 50 up Spooner to Lake Tahoe " will cost an estimated $120 million.

But Gallegos said because of the state's budget woes, no money is yet budgeted for that contract.

"The longer that phase gets put off, the more the price is going to go up," he said, adding that's true of all NDOT highway projects.

Gallegos said NDOT is moving ahead with as much remaining preconstruction work as possible.

"We try put ourselves in the position that we're ready to move forward with the entire freeway or any part of it as funding becomes available," he said.

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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