I had no reason to head north out of Carson City this week, but I did anyway just to say I'd driven on a section of the new freeway. It's really just the on-ramp, where it passes under the first bridge. Still, it exists. That's something. By this time next year, we'll be driving on the whole half-a-freeway to Highway 50, where we'll get off and try to figure out which way to go from there.
In the Appeal's totally unscientific online poll, we asked last week what effect people thought the bypass will have. I was surprised by the range among the 534 responses:
Greatly ease traffic - 23.6 percent
Help a little - 38.7 percent
No effect - 16 percent
Only confuse drivers - 21 percent
Well, there's no doubt drivers will be confused for awhile. Plenty of people still can't figure out the roundabouts.
But there is a ton of traffic coming into town from Lyon County, and at least they'll have a straight shot to the north end of town. It will make a difference. The southern half will make it a true bypass, though.
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Speaking of polls, the Carson City Parks and Recreation Department's recent survey has some interesting information, such as:
n The highest priority for residents is off-street walking/bike paths, followed by sidewalks in neighborhoods and then on-street bike lanes.
n The activity that people do most often is jogging or walking on a paved trail or street. Second is jogging/walking on an unpaved trail.
n The main reason children don't walk or bike to school more often is lack of sidewalks. That goes for high school (88 percent), middle school (83 percent) and elementary school (72 percent).
It's pretty clear to me that while Carson City has been preoccupied with getting a freeway built and improving streets to keep the traffic flowing through town, there is a great need for walking/biking trails.
This shouldn't come as news to anybody, even though there are miles more trails now than just a few years ago. It's getting them connected that's sometimes the toughest part.
My dog and I are regulars on quite a few of those trails - Riverview Park, Mexican Ditch, Empire Ranch, V&T, Silver Saddle, Prison Hill. Even if I were in better shape and could hike more miles, it still pretty much involves driving to a trail and then walking from there.
The freeway will create a huge barrier between the west and east sides of Carson City, but in some ways it will also help the bikers and hikers.
For one thing, any traffic it takes off of Carson Street will make it a little easier to get from one side of town to the other. Carson Street is a real barrier to get around on foot.
There will also be a biking/hiking path accompanying the freeway, at least for the northern portion. When the southern half is built, plans call for a trail at Fifth Street to go under the highway and connect with the Linear Trail in that area. It drops in another piece of the puzzle.
I'd like to see a trail the length of the Carson River, too. You can make it from Silver Saddle Ranch to the Mexican Ditch trail to the Empire Trail, but you have to wind through some neighborhoods to do it. Then if there's a trail somewhere in the vicinity of the Virginia & Truckee route along the river, you could go all the way to Mound House.
You could. I probably couldn't.
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One more survey to talk about:
This one was done this spring by City Hall, part of its regular effort to gauge the pulse of residents and see how well they're doing over there. If you're a registered voter, you'll probably get one of these eventually. If you're not, then get out and register to vote.
Question 4 was, "What do you feel are the top three issues facing Carson City today?" The top responses:
n Illegal drug use and distribution, 65.8 percent
n Increased property taxes, 44.1 percent
n Lack of affordable housing, 43.3 percent
n Lack of retail business, 41.9 percent
(Since you could pick three, they obviously add up to more than 100 percent.)
The mandate here is crystal clear: Clean up the drugs.
Drug abuse takes a lot of forms, but there's no question that methamphetamine is the most pervasive. That's why the mayor, sheriff and a bunch of your fellow Carsonites are working to flush it down the drain.
n Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at email@example.com or 881-1221.