The Nevada transportation board on Monday approved a major project designed to improve traffic flow through Reno’s nearly 50-year-old Spaghetti Bowl.
The intersection of Interstate 80 and U.S. 395 was constructed between 1969 and 1972 when the population of the Truckee Meadows was just 130,000. The current population is more than 420,000.
According to engineers, the current interchange simply can’t handle the traffic demands.
PAR Electric was awarded an $8.94 million contract to install IT equipment ranging from electronic signs to radar and other detection devices, lighting, guardrails, computerized systems to monitor trtaffic flows, cameras and other devices. The installations will not only be around the Spaghetti Bowl itself but some distance along both Interstate 80 and U.S. 395 and the McCarran Boulvedard ring road.
NDOT Engineer Thor Dyson described the contract as “an early Band-Aid to fix the problem.”
The plan is the completely reconstruct and redesign the Spaghetti Bowl but that will take several years according to Project Manager Nick Johnson. He said the Environmental Impact Statement alone will take about three years before a design can be finalized.
He told the board chaired by Gov. Brian Sandoval that NDOT has already contracted with CH2M to begin putting together that impact statement.
Board member Tom Skancke asked whether the state might escape those intensive environmental studies under an executive order signed by President Trump in January. He said the intent of that order was that all public projects would be exempt from the environmental process.
NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon said they can check but that he doubts the Spaghetti Bowl could be exempted because of “significant issues with the river and tribal lands.” The freeway goes over the Truckee River and passes right next to the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.