Proposed railroad to connect Minden to Reno | RecordCourier.com

Proposed railroad to connect Minden to Reno

by Regina Purcell, Staff Writer

Outgoing Douglas County Commission Chairman Don Miner has joined Minden industrialist Don Bently to re-establish a V&T Railroad line.

Miner said the commuter/tourist/freight line will eventually connect Minden to Reno and Sparks.

Miner’s joined with other Douglas County and Carson City business people and officials to build the railroad.

Incorporated in November under the name V&T Operating Co., the group hopes to raise $100 million for the project’s first phase through the sale of stock at $1,000 per share. If needed, Miner said nonvoting stock may be offered at $100 per share.

“I think it will be a very successful and convenient alternative to (keep) widening the roads,” he said.

Miner said the concept started years ago, but Gov. Kenny Guinn’s addition of Washoe and Douglas counties to the Northern Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway provided more impetus. Originally made up of Carson City, and Storey and Lyon counties, the commission grew to include the other two counties in late 2001.

“We are moving quickly,” Miner said. “Acquiring the rights-of-way is fairly easy, because we have few parcel owners to deal with,” including Minden millionaire Bently, who owns a portion of the original V&T right-of-way and has expressed interest in participating.

“Once they’re acquired, it will be much easier to raise significant amounts of money.”

In addition to completing the route to Carson City and Reno, the V&T Operating Co. wants to one day extend the line south to Yerington, Hawthorne, Bishop, Calif., and Lone Pine, Calif.

Committee members from the newly formed organization will meet with an expert concerning the initial public stock offering in January. It is hoped the offering will be made during the first six months of 2003, according to Miner.

Dwight Millard, chairman of the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau and member of the operating company, said the train will provide a major draw for the whole area.

No time line has been set, but once the route from Minden to Carson City is completed, it will connect with the original V&T route, to Virginia City.

Few if any rail lines are profitable, but the V&T Operating Co. hopes to ensure its bottom line by offering three types of service. Morning and evening service will be dedicated to commuters, daytime travel to tourism and, at night, the line could be used for freight. Separate cars will be purchased for each use, according to Miner.

“There is a need. We’ll be bringing in a greater tourist attraction, along with a freight component that we haven’t had for 50 years,” he said. “I think it’s difficult to get people out of their cars, but if we provide a convenient alternative, build it and run it right, they will come. This railroad won’t need a subsidy.”

As an energy-saving move, the company will be looking at alternative fuels for its restored tourist cars, primarily renewable nonfossil fuels. Nothing, Miner said, is being discounted at this point.

“We have a lot of brains in on this deal and a lot of ideas to be tested,” he said.

Officials for the project are working with others in the tourist railway industry, like the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge that runs between those towns in Colorado and the project is getting support from Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., Miner said.

“A tremendous number of people have expressed interest and they all have a passion to see this project completed,” Miner said. “No one is salaried. They’re here because they love the project. It’s ambitious but attainable.”

Members of the investment company’s committee include Bently, Miner, Millard, Carson Valley developer Doug Hone, Carson City developer John Serpa, Carson City banker Susan Hon and Bob Hadfield, executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties.

Douglas County Manager Dan Holler, Assistant County Director of Administrative Services Michael Brown are serving as advisers.

Nevada Appeal Staff writer Susie Vasquez contributed to this story.

n Regina Purcell can be e-mailed at rpurcell@recordcourier.com