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Storey commissioners expected to grant rights-of-way for V&T

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer

Four miles of track recycled from downtown Reno will go toward reconstruction of a section of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.

The track is being donated by Granite Construction, which is tearing up the Reno track to make way for a downtown Reno train trench.

“It will cost about $90,000 to remove, haul, and store the track, but it will save the project over $500,000 in materials,” said Kevin Ray, spokesman for the Nevada Commission to Reconstruct the V&T Railway, of the agreement with Granite.

On Tuesday, Storey County commissioners tentatively approved the release of more than 20 acres of essential rights-of-way under their control.

Approval will be finalized when Storey officials address tax issues with Nevada’s Department of Taxation, but they don’t expect any major stumbling blocks.

“We have to cover our bases,” said Bob Kershaw, Storey County commissioner. “But I think everyone at the (Storey County) Courthouse wants to see this happen. Virginia City is where it all started.”

Mayor Ray Masayko, a staunch proponent of the project, lauded the commissioners for their support.

“We have to wrangle other rights-of-way,” he said. “We want people to donate their rights-of-way, and this action gives us a little bit of positive leverage with everyone else.”

Completion of a long-awaited environmental impact statement needs only the final signatures, which are expected within the next week, said Masayko. “I’m very excited to see this kind of movement,” he said. “We’re in high gear, and it’s a great place to be.”

Proponents have accrued about $6 million from a number of sources, including Storey County’s quarter-cent sales tax, bonding from the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and federal dollars from the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.

Much or all of that money could be spent crossing the Overman Pit, one of the project’s biggest stumbling blocks, Masayko said. The Overman was a mine near Gold Hill.

“Once we’ve crossed the pit, we’re $8 million away from crossing Highway 50,” he said.

Masayko said officials are working on fund-raisers at the federal and local levels to complete the project, which has been on the drawing board since 1991.

Construction could start as soon as January and should be completed in about two years.

Economic impact statements project $40.9 million from the construction project alone. Once the train is operating, the annual economic impact for the region is estimated at $16.5 million.