Carson bypass ready for debut |

Carson bypass ready for debut

Geoff Dornan
After years of construction, the 580 bypass is nearing completion.
Jim Grant

Here’s your chance to walk, run or bike a highway.

The last leg of Interstate 580 scheduled to open in August will be open for pedestrian traffic from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday

The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is holding a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. near the south end of the new bypass, where it meets up with U.S. 50 West to Lake Tahoe.

NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon, Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell and Janice Brown, Federal Highway Administration’s Director of Field Services for western states, will be on hand to speak and commemorate the completion of the 10-mile Carson City freeway.

“The opening of the last leg of the I-580 freeway is a long-awaited turning point for the Carson City community and one which we have been anticipating and preparing for over several decades,” said Crowell. “First conceived in the 1960s, it has now become a reality. In addition to relieving traffic congestion generally and most notably on Fairview Drive, it will at long last allow our community the ability to showcase our City as the capital of the great State of Nevada and enhance the quality of life we so enjoy in Carson City.”

Randy Gaa from Muscle Powered, the group working to make Carson City safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, will give a brief safety talk.

If You Go

What: Walk, run and bike event celebrating completion of Interstate 580, officially the Carson City Deputy Sheriff Carl Howell Memorial Freeway

When: July 22, 9 a.m. to noon

Where: Last three miles of the freeway

How: Take I-580 southbound and follow signs for parking

Seventeen years and $203.5 million later, the Carson City freeway bypass is just about to open to traffic.

Area residents will get the chance to ride their bicycles, run or walk the final three-mile stretch of the freeway on Saturday. But it won’t actually open to car and truck traffic until about two weeks later — the first week of August.

The completed bypass runs a total of just under 10 miles from the Washoe County line at Lakeview Hill to the Spooner Junction just north of the Douglas County line.

A bypass to move major highway traffic through the capital off of Carson Street is a project that has been talked about, considered and put off for 40 years before the actual work began in 2000. One of the driving forces pushing the state to fund and build the bypass was then-Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira. Teixeira is now deceased but he lived to see it reach Fairview Drive.

It would have undoubtedly been much cheaper if the state and Carson City had done it long ago. The first route considered to get some traffic off of Carson Street was actually just a couple of blocks east — Stewart Street. Roop Street was also looked at as was Saliman farther to the east.

None of those routes actually gained any traction or funding.

The final route instead works its way through neighborhoods in northern Carson City, through the Lompa Ranch area near the historic Nevada State Prison and skirts the Stewart Indian colony at its south end. South of Fairview, it closely follows South Edmonds Drive, another route that was considered years earlier.

To build it, contractors used 91,650 cubic yards of concrete and 306,765 tons of asphalt. They excavated nearly 3.5 million cubic yards of dirt. The bridges, sound walls and other structures used some 18 million pounds of steel.

Just building the freeway from Lakeview to where it crosses U.S. 50 (William Street) cost $91.2 million, in good part because that phase constructed three major bridges including at College Parkway as well as huge drainage and detention facilities in the Lompa Ranch area.

Another $48 million extended the roadway south to Fairview Drive but several other smaller contracts were needed to complete bridges carrying Clearview, Koontz and Snyder over the new freeway. Contractors also had to do a huge amount of work to ensure proper drainage all the way from Spooner Junction to Lompa Ranch north of Fifth Street into the nearby Carson River..

The final contract to complete the bypass to Spooner Junction was with Road and Highway Builders for $42,242,242.

Altogether, the bypass is 9.71 miles long.

While the bypass itself is complete, the final work, construction of the full freeway interchange at Spooner Junction, will have to wait until there is funding available. That interchange is a multi-million dollar enhancement that was put off in favor of a signalized intersection to get the bypass open several years earlier than would otherwise have been possible.