Hopes high for V&T reconstruction under new commission

Financially, it's been a long uphill pull for the Tricounty Railway Commission. Created by the Nevada Legislature in 1993, the organization has been dedicated to reconstruction of the V&T Railroad's historic route from Gold Hill to Virginia City.

The economic picture following completion of this project may be rosy, but most officials agreed with Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko, who said this is a difficult project to fund.

"The Reynolds Foundation doesn't want to come forward until the state indicates it's willing to back the project financially, and local businesses don't want to come forward until the project gains some (financial) momentum," he said.

"But this is easily the biggest potential tourist attraction that Carson City has ever enjoyed. All of the businesses in Carson City that cater to tourists or overnighters will benefit."

With the passage of Senate Bill 334 in May of this year, the organization's board evolved into the Northern Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, creating four new members on the board for a total of nine members from Carson, Lyon, Storey, Douglas and Washoe Counties.

Chuck Haynes, Storey County representative and long-time member of the commission, is optimistic about their chances for success.

"This has always been a regional project," he said. "Bringing Washoe and Douglas County into the fold brings that point home."

Haynes believes there could be broader financial participation in the project following this move. Janice Ayres, recently appointed to the commission for a three-year term by Gov. Kenny Guinn, underscored that comment.

She said the Union Pacific Railroad board is looking at a proposal to donate rails and equipment for 17 miles of line and Guinn is considering funding part of the $24.4 million project with $2 million from his 2003 budget.

Masayko said the room tax here could increase to 10 percent, up from 8 percent, with the money going to finance the project.

"We've never been in any governor's budget before, but this governor appreciates the economic impact of this project," she said. "We're not just building a railroad. This construction will mean about 1,400 to 1,500 permanent new jobs.

"There are railroad buffs everywhere and people will be coming from all over," she said. "We won't be taking our train through wheat fields. The ride follows an original of a historic railroad and the scenery is gorgeous."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio appointed Atlantis Casino owner John Farahi and and Speaker of the Assembly Richard Perkins appointed Bob Hadfield, executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties.

Masayko, Hadfield and Ron Allen of the V&T Historic Railroad Society will serve one-year terms. Haynes, Lyon County Commissioner Chet Hillyard and Washoe County Commissioner Ted Short will serve for two years. Douglas County Commissioner Don Miner, Farahi and Ayres will serve for three years.


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