With NDOT officials cheering them on, well over 100 Carson City residents walked, jogged and biked south from Highway 50 Saturday morning, inaugurating the newest segment of the bypass freeway.
Nevada Department of Transportation officials let the runners - including Carson Mayor Bob Crowell - loose just after 8 a.m. as part of the "Fun Run" before the two mile stretch between 50 and Fairview Drive formally opens to traffic on Thursday.
Project Manager Jim Gallegos said the project, which passes through the lowest - and wettest - part of the valley, took two years to build. And that was after the installation of the complex drainage system that collects and directs excess water south and east to the Carson River.
Department of Transportation Spokesman Scott Magruder said there is now some six miles of freeway all the way from Arrowhead Drive at Carson City's north end to Fairview Drive. He said that means almost all the truck traffic can now avoid going through town and down Carson Street. He and other NDOT officials say after the ribbon cutting Thursday, residents should notice a big difference in the number of trucks downtown.
But Saturday's event wasn't for auto and truck traffic. It was for the residents of Carson City to take a more leisurely tour of the project.
In addition to the joggers, there were bikers from four to well over 60 years old, pregnant mothers pushing strollers, rollerbladers and skateboarders and even a few wheelchairs. Long after the event started at 8 a.m., people continued coming until several hundred had taken NDOT and city officials up on the opportunity.
But Gallegos and others said they were far from the first to do so. NDOT engineers and construction workers along the route have been watching bikers, boarders and bladers try out the freeway ever since the first asphalt went down - some of them returning daily for a ride.
Gallegos said work has begun on the final leg of the project, which will connect the bypass back to U.S. 395 at Spooner Junction. About $15 million is being spent on two at-grade bridge structures that will carry cross streets over the freeway. A source for the more than $100 million in additional funding to complete the bypass, however, hasn't yet been identified.