'History in Motion' freeway landscaping project moves ahead

The first chapter of the History in Motion story was Eagle Valley located at the North Carson Street Interchange. The soaring eagle and its corresponding shadow is reminiscent of Eagle Station, where the valley got its name.

The first chapter of the History in Motion story was Eagle Valley located at the North Carson Street Interchange. The soaring eagle and its corresponding shadow is reminiscent of Eagle Station, where the valley got its name.

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Work on the long-awaited "Carson City's History in Motion" freeway landscaping project is set to begin next month.

When completed, likely in the spring of next year, it will give motorists a glimpse into the city's history through art and landscaping, and perhaps coax them to stop in the capital city to see more of what it has to offer.

The project was originally conceived by Carson City's Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides, spearheaded and shepherded through years of red tape by Mary Fischer.

GROW successfully obtained initial federal funding for the project which has since been awarded additional federal and state grant funding, said Carson City Transportation Manager Patrick Pittenger.

The Regional Transportation Commission was supportive of the efforts.

"The RTC very much appreciates GROW's continued commitment to this project, and we look forward to enjoying the enhanced freeway when the project is complete," said Shelly Aldean, RTC chairwoman and city supervisor.

"The city's Regional Transportation Commission financed the design of the project, but the estimated $2.7 million construction cost will be paid for almost entirely by grant funds," Pittenger said.

Improvements will extend from the North Carson Street interchange to the Highway 50 East interchange, and will include many landscape and aesthetic treatments located mainly at the seven freeway interchanges and grade separations.

The Nevada Department of Transportation is continuing the theme at grade separations and interchanges for the south leg of the freeway from Highway 50 East down to Spooner Summit.



The freeway's design theme is "Carson

City's History in Motion," and the freeway interchanges and grade separations will tell a unique part of the story through chapters of the city's history.

This design theme is consistent throughout the freeway corridor in Carson City, including the portions that have been installed at Fairview Drive and Fifth Street, as well as the portion under design south of Fairview Drive, said Tom Grundy, senior project manager for the city's Public Works Department.

The chapters will include:

• North Carson Street interchange, Eagle Valley chapter, the early years.

• Arrowhead Drive interchange, 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy chapter: Images were used at this interchange to tell the story of a young lieutenant colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower who participated in the first Army transcontinental motor convoy. This expedition consisted of 81 motorized army vehicles, 24 officers and 258 enlisted men which crossed the United States from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco.

• The Northgate Lane and Emerson Drive grade separations, Pony Express and Sam Davis Ranch chapter.

• College Parkway interchange, Comstock Lode chapter: The freeway's bridge structure at College Parkway provides a great venue to show an underground silver mine and the images of the unheralded workers of the Comstock Lode.

• Northridge Drive/Carmine Lane grade separation, stagecoach racing chapter.

• Highway 50 East, the V&T chapter.

"The eagle at the North Carson interchange is a key feature of the project, celebrating Carson City's location in the Eagle Valley. The Pony Express mural at Northgate Lane honors the Pony Express which faded out quickly following the invention of the telegraph," Grundy said. "The children riding the cow visible from Ronald D. Wilson memorial Park adds a whimsical feature to the project."


Key considerations when designing the project were that it be low maintenance, use minimal water and be durable and attractive, he said.

The project was designed by Winston and Associates, with assistance from Sandra Wendell and Associates for the plantings, re-vegetation and irrigation system.

Several community workshops were held to gather citizen input. Ideas also were received from the city and NDOT.

GROW is a grassroots organization that began years ago as a joint effort of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers and concerned citizens of the community.

GROW's mission is to ensure the establishment of a low-maintenance, water efficient landscape on the slopes, interchanges and gateways of the Carson City Freeway using native or naturalized plants and to soften the visual impact of the freeway as it cuts Carson City in half by ensuring landscaping or planting of the gateways, interchanges and adjacent slopes of the Carson City Freeway with native and naturalized vegetation to blend the structure into the surrounding hills.

The goal is an attractive, low-maintenance landscape that beautifies the Freeway, offers visual mitigation to the community and makes using the multi-purpose path along the freeway more enjoyable.


In order to accomplish its mission, GROW came up with a number of design recommendations to be implemented:

• The landscaping is similar to the surrounding hillsides with native or naturalized plants.

• Use of large boulders, small rock and organic mulches are included for variety and to reflect a natural environment.

• Native or adapted drought-tolerant plant materials are used through all the project's landscape areas. The plant material palette was selected to support the historical concepts and images at each interchange and grade separation, including the sound wall themes.

• Plants have been selected that are almost self-maintaining when mature.

• Project uses plants that require a minimum of water when mature.

• Native seed mixes were selected to mimic what is visible on surrounding hillsides.

• All the plant needing water will be irrigated with a drip irrigation system which will be controlled by a central irrigation controller and weather station to minimize water demand.

"Lots of effort by many people was put into this project - to create a landscape which is low maintenance and durable, yet very attractive," Grundy said. "Our freeway corridor will be much more attractive by this time next year."


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