Freeway will open by mid-February |

Freeway will open by mid-February

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer
Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal The first phase of the Carson City freeway is opening early. The 4.5 mile stretch will connect Highway 395 and Highway 50.

Commuters will be driving on the new 41Ú2-mile stretch of the Carson City freeway by mid-February, three months ahead of schedule.

Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said contractor Ames Construction has completed most of the work ahead of time because the weather has worked in its favor. Work days for the government contract end in April.

“By early-to-mid February, weather depending, we will open both directions of the freeway from Highway 50 East to Highway 395 North for traffic,” he said.

This is good news to commuters like Christy Chamberlain, who is eager to get off the surface streets.

“I think it’s going to take 10 minutes off my daily commute to Reno,” she said Monday. “Since Wal-Mart has opened they’ve put in a new stop light there and a few others in the last year, and if you get caught at any of those it can add 10 minutes to the trip.”

She’ll access the freeway from the College Parkway on-ramp. Chamberlain, a technical writer, has commuted to her job at IGT for the last three years.

Operation of the traffic signals was a concern, but Magruder said the contractor is confident that they’ll be working by February.

NDOT officials are planning a fun run/walk on the freeway to celebrate its opening. They plan to stage the event on a weekend before the opening.

Business owners have been looking forward to the freeway’s opening.

“I think this is good because people will be able to see our hotel from both sides of the highway,” said Sheri Friedrich, co-owner of the Hampton Inn & Suites. “I think it will smooth out the traffic in Carson and make 395 more user friendly.”

Friedrich and her husband, Dave, chose to build their hotel on North Carson Street because of the proximity to the new freeway and the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center.

Carson City’s freeway has been in the planning for more than 20 years. Phase one of the project, from Highway 395 at Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50 East, included building the four bridges spanning Arrowhead Drive, Northgate Lane, Emerson Drive and College Parkway. Those bridges cost $14 million, plus $70 million in construction and right-of-way costs, bringing the total cost of phase one to $120 million.

Construction on the next phase, from Highway 50 to Fairview Drive, will begin this year. This $40 million section is planned to be completed in 2008. The last $80 million section to Highway 50 at Spooner Summit should be completed by 2010, according to NDOT.

The interstate under construction in Washoe Valley will connect with Highway 395 at the north end of Washoe Valley. It is scheduled to be completed in 2009. The whole length will be called I-580.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.