I got a letter from NDOT today, setting me straight on a few things I said when I was talking about the I-580 project the other day. I’ll just reprint the whole thing here, rather than trying to paraphrase it.

In response to the Tuesday, Jan. 9, posting “I-580 Construction Resumes,” I wanted to set the record straight regarding the following erroneous statement: “NDOT chose this particular alignment mostly because they were excited about the chance to build this bridge.” This is completely false.

This project is the last of six projects that built US-395 from Panther Valley, north of Reno, to the Carson City/Washoe County line. This overall project was conceived in 1957. Four of the six projects were constructed. The alignment proposed by NDOT for the remaining two projects, between the Bowers Mansion Highway north to South McCarran, was very contentious and not well accepted by the public. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, NDOT was required to prepare an environmental impact statement to comply with federal law. During this process alternate alignments were proposed and debated in public meetings. The final alignment, the “S” alignment, was the result of many compromises among the members of the public who would be affected by it.

The Nevada Department of Transportation did not choose the I-580 alignment. NDOT was only a cooperating participant, and the Department had actually recommended a route that was not only less expensive, but easier to construct.

Thank you or your time and consideration.

Scott Magruder
Public Information Officer
Nevada Department of Transportation


  1. Scott,

    Several years ago when the final decision on routing was being made, I had the chance to speak with a couple of Regional Transportaion staffers on “how” the final routing decision was actually made. They said that it was basically the “last and worst” route available. Over the decades, route after route had been proposed but because of either threatened litigation or new housing developments that were approved by the county in the proposed freeway path, they were discarded – one by one. As all too often occurs, political expedience trumped realistic and effective long-term planning.

    Will Veterans Parkway – long proposed to connect Mount Rose Hwy on the south to Sparks Blvd where it dead ends at the north bank of the Truckee River – ever be completed? Or, will it fall victim to political expediency and be stymied by the never-ending protests of the Hidden Valley NIMBY crowd? That “southeast connector” is vitally needed right now and will become even more critical as more and more development occurs in southeast Reno as well as in Sparks, but will the Regional Transportation folks have the guts to route it correctly using the lowest cost and most effective route through Rosewood Lakes or will it push it further into the future and up into the mountains where it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars more and provide far less effective service to Reno drivers.

    And, there are other important regional road projects such as:

    The outer ring freeway segment that is supposed to connect west to east between the 580 Freeway and Vista just to the north of the McCarron loop. The road is proposed, but no routing has been agreed upon and year after year more new development keeps getting built along the most feasible and cost effective route.

    Transforming Pyramid Hwy into a Freeway north of its connection with the proposed Outer Loop Freeway. Here too, every year without a firm routing and needed land acquisition brings ever more development which will interfere with and drive up the cost of any eventual freeway construction.

    And, one that planners are not even discussing publicly as yet, but that was mentioned to me years ago by a frustrated staffer. One day, when the I80/I580 interchange gets even more hopelessly knotted, it will probably be necessary to create an all-new north-south road linking I80 (somewhere out by Verdi) to Mount Rose Highway (somewhere up by Montreux) by building a parkway or Freeway around the hillsides through the federal land in order to take some of the north-south traffic off of I580. For years, planners wanted to create another through route to the north. But the NIMBY crowd in the county horse estates area got the politicos to thwart every attempt. So, someday it will probably end up costing a kings ransom to finally create an alternative route gouged along the steep federal hillside land along the west side of Reno.

    You know the drill – its the same kind of steep hillside land that the long-delayed I580 extension will finally traverse above Pleasant Valley 🙂


  2. It always amazes me how fast people were able to build things back in the “olden days”. Things like the Los Angeles freeway system, the New York subways, the Bay Area bridges, even the V&T Railroad. But now, with all our advanced construction techniques (and red tape) it takes us decades to build anything similar. Maybe it’s because there was less concern for things like safety and the environment back then, I don’t know. The Bay Bridge took three years to build; how long is its replacement taking? And the V&T – it took them the same amount of time to build that one-mile stretch by the Overman Pit that it did to build the whole railroad 140 years ago.

    Maybe there was more money to throw around back then. Maybe there weren’t any NIMBYs in the 50s. Or maybe the government knew better how to ignore them. But things sure were more efficient back then, and we seem to be going in the wrong direction.

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