Hundreds celebrate Carson City freeway opening

Mayor Bob Crowell acknowledges Kevin Howell, father of slain Deputy Carl Howell for whom the freeway is named for, Saturday morning in Carson City.

Mayor Bob Crowell acknowledges Kevin Howell, father of slain Deputy Carl Howell for whom the freeway is named for, Saturday morning in Carson City.

It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times, to riff on a literary allusion, but it was close enough Saturday to mix elation and consternation for me.

Moments after the ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the Interstate 580 Deputy Carl Howell highway link in south Carson City, my cell phone rang. I was biking northeast on the nearly completed northeast-bound lane with hundreds of hikers and other bikers. Ahead of me was Supervisor Brad Bonkowski and behind me were scores of other Carson City residents.

Breaking and answering my phone, a man’s voice startled me. I had expected to hear from my wife, Jean, who was late for the ceremony and joy of the bike ride up the freeway toward Fairview. I was told she had been in a bike accident and though she appeared fine, she would be taken to Carson Tahoe Hospital’s emergency room.

What flashed though my mind, however, was consternation and fear the diagnosis was premature. Off I pedaled toward home as fast as my 75-year-old legs could get the job done. Transferring to my car, I raced to the hospital. As it turned out, Jean was indeed fine, even though she took a spill and was knocked out briefly just north of Bodine’s Casino.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” the opening line from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” is among the most hackneyed of literary allusions journalists lean on as often as appropriate. But I’m no longer a journalist, so get over it.

Because Jean seems fine, this is an article of elation more than consternation. The event that ended abruptly for me was fantabulous, surpassing a similar one earlier. Five years ago, when I was a new though veteran reporter for the Nevada Appeal, the newspaper assigned me to do a first-person account of the similar I-580 opening from south Reno to Carson City.

Jean and I rode our bikes south that day, and though the views over Pleasant Valley were enticing, they couldn’t match the vistas in my mind Saturday because this last link of the freeway is just what Mayor Bob Crowell said in his brief remarks. It’s a turning point for Carson City, a challenge for the community and its leadership, and in my mind a coming of age for us all.

I’m sure the mayor was right when he said he, and the rest of the Board of Supervisors, intend to do all we can to make Carson City a place people drive to, not just through. He cited the previous and ongoing downtown project to enhance Carson and Curry streets, the coming South Carson Street makeover and other chances to keep our state’s capital a gem and make it shine brighter.

The mayor recalled his father, Bill Crowell, had been an attorney spokesman decades ago for keeping downtown from losing out to a bypass freeway. But the mayor assured his listeners his father would see things differently now. Though I never had the pleasure of knowing the mayor’s father, I’m confident if he could see this city today, his son’s words would prove true.

I first saw Carson City in 1970, just after it became a consolidated city-county municipality, and returned to live here a decade ago for my last working and semi-retirement spot. Jean and I chose it because it was and is a state capital on the move in a state on the move. It has culture, great people and now a river of concrete runs through it.

Saturday was a super day in Carson City, and had CTH gotten my beloved Jean up on her feet before noon, I’d have taken her home to convalesce. Then, with her blessing, I’d have headed back to the freeway to finish a great bike ride even in 100 degree Fahrenheit heat. It wasn’t to be, as we got home about noon.

Though Jean was sad to miss the ride and interrupting mine didn’t spoil the day, it was neat even for Carson City.

It’s still the best of times around here.

John Barrette represents Ward 4 on the Carson City Board of Supervisors. He is a former reporter for the Nevada Appeal.


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