Carson City freeway in the slow lane again | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City freeway in the slow lane again

Nevada Appeal editorial board

It wouldn’t be summer in Carson City without another delay in construction of the freeway. Most other seasons are marked the same way, it seems.

What is holding it up this time?

Well, it might be nothing. Or it might be the fact that a huge chunk of land which the southern portion of the freeway is supposed to occupy remains in the hands of the Lompa family.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody, as the Lompas have owned the ranch off Fifth Street for a few generations. Nor is it news that the freeway is to go through the ranch, as that has been the plan for a decade or so.

The news in an article in Saturday’s edition of the Nevada Appeal was that the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Lompas are still negotiating a purchase price. Just as important, NDOT apparently won’t take occupancy until a price is settled.

If negotiations proceed smoothly, then there may be no problem. But this is the Carson City freeway, and not much goes smoothly. This week, NDOT’s board is expected to begin condemnation proceedings to take the matter to court if negotiations do break down.

Land acquisitions and condemnations are part of the business of building a freeway, so what makes this one worrisome?

It’s that the potential cost of acquiring the land could be so high, NDOT won’t be able to fit it into the budget. No Lompa property, no freeway — not anytime soon, anyway.

The state’s offer is $2.8 million, which works out to $34,000 an acre.

But we remember the state paying John Serpa about $135,000 per acre for property at the southern freeway interchange in 1993, when it condemned the property. Then when he sued, the state argued it was worth $250,000 an acre. A jury awarded him $847,000 an acre in 1999.

Different properties, different circumstances.

Nevertheless, it took six years to arrive at a figure that was six times the original payment. That could add up to many more seasons of delays.