After a brief ceremony to get the public officials out of the way, Road and Highway Builders got to work on the final stretch of the Carson Bypass Monday.
“This was 50 years in the making,” said Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell. “My father in 1964 was quoted in the paper saying don’t build the bypass; it’ll kill downtown. Now, I’m standing here as mayor saying build it.”
Crowell and Nevada Department of Transportation Deputy Director Bill Hoffman said the bypass will create opportunities to revitalize the downtown.
“This is really truly a historic project for Nevada and our state capital,” Crowell said.
Hoffman told the small crowd the bypass “will fully connect Reno, Tahoe, the Carson Valley and so on.” He said it also will connect Carson City to the nation’s freeway system.
“Nevada was one of only a handful of capitals not connected to the freeway system,” Hoffman said.
He said the four-lane freeway also will play a major part in flood control for Carson City.
The project has cost $203.5 million, largely federal and state money.
The city did contribute a share by implementing a 5-cent gas tax and Crowell said he believes that has generated about $19 million so far.
City Transportation Manager Patrick Pittenger said the city stopped sending money to NDOT in 2005 after renegotiating the deal with the state. In exchange, he said the city took control and maintenance of about 20 miles of state roads in town.
“We still have a financial commitment of about $7 million which is not payable until the bypass is complete,” Crowell said.
NDOT will take two construction seasons to finish the four-mile stretch of freeway from Fairview Drive to the U.S. 50/Spooner Junction. But Crowell said that still doesn’t complete the job because the interchange won’t be built until there is enough money to cover the $20 million-plus cost. Until then, the bypass will end at a signalized intersection connecting the bypass, Carson Street and the road to Spooner Summit.
Without the interchange, this phase of the bypass is costing $42.24 million.
NDOT officials said the state also is planning to repair and repave south Carson Street from Fairview to the junction next year.