About 200 people showed up Monday for the grand opening of the USA Parkway connecting Interstate 80 to U.S. 50 through the Reno Tahoe Industrial Center.
But both Gov. Brian Sandoval and department of Transportation Director Rudy Malfabon were quick to point out the four-lane highway won’t actually open to through traffic for a week or so — tentatively September 8.
Malfabon said crews are still putting the finishing touches on the final stretch of highway — cable barriers and other safety improvements leading to the roundabout connecting it to Highway 50.
Sandoval told the crowd braving the hot sun on a 90-plus day the project is being completed “three months early and on budget.”
He said the road will be “a game changer, a significant improvement in the movement of services and goods.” He said it connects the residents of Silver Springs, Dayton, Yerington and Carson City to the growing number of skilled jobs being offered by companies now opening for business at the industrial center.
“This is a significant milestone in our effort to diversify our economy,” Sandoval said. “This is further proof northern Nevada is becoming a center for innovation and technology.”
His sentiments were echoed by Jack McBride, Storey County Commission Chairman, and Bob Hastings, Lyon County’s commission chair.
“This is more than a connector to Lyon County and Storey County,” said Hastings. “This will give us the opportunity to lift ourselves up and grow.”
TRIC spokesman Lance Gillman said the parkway is a major step in a process he and Roger Norman, the primary owner of TRIC, said they began the process that led to USA Parkway in 1998.
Now, he said, TRIC is home to Tesla, Google, Walmart, Switch, Pet Smart and will soon see more construction including a major nano-technology plant.
He credited Norman’s foresight and willingness to buy the 104,000 acre ranch TRIC now sits on and then pump nearly $50 million into developing it including building the Interstate 80 freeway interchange providing access to TRIC.
Sandoval pointed out the project began just 16 months ago. The contract was awarded to Ames Construction for $75.9 million. In addition to improving the six miles of roadway TRIC owners already constructed, Ames crews paved another six miles of four lane highway, bringing the road to U.S. 50 where the two connect in a roundabout.
The project also includes two wildlife under-crossings and strategically placed fencing to prevent collisions between wildlife and vehicles.