The state transportation board on Monday took the first concrete step toward completely redesigning and reconstructing Reno’s Spaghetti Bowl.
The board headed by Gov. Brian Sandoval approved a $4.8 million contract with CH2M to engineer, design and prepare for what Sandoval said are all those improvements that can be made to relieve congestion before the actual Spaghetti Bowl is rebuilt.
That will pave the way for the Nevada Department of Transportation board to approve an actual construction contract for the Reno Early Action Project worth upwards of $135 million next summer.
Project Manager Dale Keller said the project, “will address the two top bottlenecks we have in the Reno-Sparks area.”
That’s the on-ramp connecting Interstate 80 east to U.S. 395 south and the congestion between the Spaghetti Bowl and Glendale Vaenue south on U.S. 395 to the Mill Street on-ramp.
He said the Reno Early Action Project is “an opportunity to deliver a tremendous benefit to the community,” by building those improvements that can be done ahead of the actual Spaghetti Bowl reconstruction.
The work includes revising the Wells Avenue on-ramp to I-80 East to handle more traffic. Just east of there, it will expand the ramp connecting I-80 east to U.S. 395 south from one to two lanes.
On U.S. 395/I-580, it will restore the third southbound lane from the bowl south and “restore the appropriate lane balance down to the Villanova exit. Finally, it will fix the lane weaving issues between Second Street and Mill Street.
Keller said when completed, this project should greatly reduce or eliminate traffic back-ups on I-80 between Wells Avenue and the southbound U.S. 395 ramp. He said the southbound back-up at the Spaghetti Bowl should be eliminated.
NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon told the board the Reno Early Action Project won’t delay any Southern Nevada projects and won’t slow down the Spaghetti Bowl project.
“All these improvements tie in with that,” he said. “This will address the main issues that have been the bane of commuters in the Truckee Meadows for decades.”
“This is a really important regional project,” said Sandoval. “When this is put together with the southeast connector it’s going to make a world of difference.”
Keller said it’s much more complicated than just an on-ramp project. He said over that two-mile distance, it involves seven bridges and several ramps.
The Spaghetti Bowl reconstruction project is the Reno area’s top priority. The existing interchange between I-80 and U.S. 395 was built in the 1970s when the population of the Truckee Meadows was a quarter of what it is now.
That project is still a number of years away and projected to cost up to $2.5 billion altogether.
In conjunction with that project, Sandoval said he was disappointed with the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority’s public objections to the plan to take down the dedicated on and off ramps that lead directly to the Airport.
Malfabon said not only would reconstructing them add major costs to the freeway project, there won’t be room when the freeway is widened.
He said airport officials refused to meet with him and his staff to discuss the situation, instead going to Reno area media to put out what Malfabon said was biased information.
“It was basically represented that the airport was blindsided,” said Sandoval. “Hopefully there is a change in behavior on behalf of the airport authority and a willingness to communicate.”
In other business, the board:
Approved condemnation resolutions for a total of eight parcels of land needed for the expansion of U.S. 50 between Dayton and U.S. 95A. Negotiations are still ongoing with the owners;
Approved a multi-year, $13.4 million contract with United Road Towing to continue providing Freeway Services Patrol help for motorists in the Reno/Sparks and Las Vegas metropolitan areas.