The newest additions to the Carson City Freeway landscaping are metal horse sculptures at Fairview Drive.
Years ago, before the freeway was a reality, the consensus was that freeways needn't be sterile strips of concrete and asphalt, and the idea of attractive landscapes was born.
The Nevada Department of Transportation will provide all the freeway enhancements south of Highway 50. Carson City is providing the landscaping north of 50.
The project is being funded through American Recovery and Reconstruction Act dollars, said NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder.
"This program was funded as part of the $201 million in stimulus money that Nevada got two years ago. Only $5 million went for freeway enhancements," he said. Of that, Carson City received about $1.7 million.
Magruder stressed that the money is earmarked for enhancements only, and cannot go into road construction or any other fund.
A Reno artist created the sculptures, which are designed to weather and become even more attractive with time.
The cattle drive design over Fifth Street features steel or aluminum panels in the shapes of horses, riders and cattle. Panels are attached to the existing pedestrian fencing, are life-sized, and can be viewed from both directions of travel. Fairview Drive art depicts early settlers sharing pine nuts with Native Americans.
When completed, Carson City's freeway corridor from north to south will tell the story of Eagle Valley.
"I always had a sense this place wanted to tell its own story, so I have used the analogy between the aesthetic designs for the freeway and a book," said John L'Etoile of the American Society of Landscape Architects, who worked on the freeway design.
"The chapters of the book are about Native Americans, ranching, railroads, silver and gold mining, pioneers, and Pony Express riders, to name a few, and surrounding us, like the covers of a book, is this amazing landscape, the same hills and mountains viewed by those who came before us," he said.
"The story will be told along the freeway within the sloped areas, bridge fencing, landscape areas and soundwalls. This book will tell about the eras and events that helped shape what Eagle Valley is today and give present-day travelers a chance to remember the people who lived in the valley, gathered from it, hunted on it, survived on it, and made it home," L'Etoile said.
"Originally, we were interested in only south of the 50 Interchange, but soon realized that allowing one theme, or idea, to carry through the entire stretch of the Carson City Freeway would not only strengthen the concept, but allow travelers time to interpret and understand what is being done," he said.
The next phase of the freeway, south of the Fairview interchange, will celebrate the California Overland Trail, which crosses the freeway south of Fairview.
The Washoe Tribe, the smallest tribe in Nevada, is celebrated close to the new Snyder Bridge. Other historical treasures to be celebrated throughout the project are the state capitol, the flume that came down from Spooner Lake, and Basque sheepherders.
Carson City's History in Motion, meanwhile, is a plan being developed by the city to blend landscape, art and history into the interchanges and grade separations of the north leg of the freeway. Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides is heavily involved in the project. The themes are:
• Highway 50 interchange: V&T
• Carmine/Northridge grade separation: Stagecoaches
• College Parkway interchange: Comstock Lode
• Northgate/Emerson grade separation: Pony Express on south side, ranching on north side
• Arrowhead interchange: 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy
• North Carson interchange: Eagle Valley
These projects were expected to go to bid this spring.