Washoe Valley Businesses Hurt by the New Freeway

The story about the opening of the new I-580 freeway isn’t all good news. The RGJ reports on the businesses in Washoe City that have been left abandoned by the new freeway, and by the construction work that is preventing traffic from getting to them even if they want to.

There aren’t a lot of businesses in Old Washoe City. The former Cattleman’s steakhouse closed down a couple of years ago, and there is an abandoned nursery along with some other shuttered businesses. But the shops that are still there have been holding on because all the traffic between Reno and Carson City had to pass right by them, so they got plenty of eyeballs. The Old 395 Gas Station was at the halfway point between Reno and Carson, and the only place for people to stop who forgot to fill up, or thought they could make it all the way between the two cities on a quarter tank and found out they were wrong. Access off of the old 395 route was nice and easy, but right now from I-580 it is impossible to get to. That will change in a couple of months when construction on the Bower’s Mansion interchange is done, and there will be an easy exit off the freeway for Old Washoe City. But right now that interchange is only half built and completely closed, and even if you wanted to get to Old Washoe City you would have to deliberately detour way out of your way, following the foothills to the east or west of the valley, to get there. The article outlines how Old 395 Station can’t just sit back and eat their costs for six weeks waiting for the traffic to come back, and might just have to close. Other businesses like the Chocolate Nugget might be able to survive through the construction period, but even after the interchange is built they’ll have to rely on people deliberately exiting the freeway and taking the back roads to stay afloat. Nevada Lynn Emporium closed last year, otherwise I’m sure they would have been in trouble too.

This is the tough part of freeway construction in rural areas like this. Whenever a road that used to be the main thoroughfare gets bypassed and becomes the “old road”, it’s horrible for any business along that route. The “old roads” of America are littered with shuttered businesses that got bypassed. The entire movie “Cars” is exactly about that topic. Roadside business relies on traffic and eyeballs, and when you don’t have either you can’t bring in any customers. The residents of Pleasant Valley have got to be happy with the reduced amounts of traffic that will be zipping by their homes now, but some people relied on all that traffic, and now that it’s gone it’s going to make things a lot harder for them.

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