V&T commission prefers Drako Way site for Carson terminal

Designers of the Virginia & Truckee Railway depot want to attract tourists to the best rail experience. So, does that mean selling tickets over the Internet, or should they sell tickets from windows on the platform?

And should the depot building be the old V&T yellow, or the V&T red? There are those who will debate which color came first on the historic Comstock-era track that ran between Carson City and Virginia City.

These and other aesthetic questions are just a small part of the conceptual design for the Carson City depot of the reconstructed V&T Railway, which is expected to be completed in 2009.

The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway decided Monday night to look at 20 acres on Drako Way as the preferred site for the depot. The land has multiple owners, including developer Andy Hettrick, who has a plan for a multi-use project molded to fit the railroad, including a casino, museums and shops.

At the board's previous meeting it had narrowed the field of possible depot choices from nine to two: Hettrick's Drako Way site and eight acres on Detroit Lane. Both sites must endure an environmental analysis, but the engineers will now focus efforts on Drako Way. Detroit Lane is a possible alternative.

The commission favored the site because it has two points of access at Drako Way and Morgan Mill Road, is adjacent to Highway 50, and provides scenic views of Carson City and the mountains.

It's the distance from homes and the view that convinced Carson City resident Linda Lippincutt.

"It's out on a hill and tourists love to take photographs with beautiful scenery in the background," she said.

The Drako Way site would need a 50- to 60-foot bridge to cross Morgan Mill Road, but commissioners were quick to point out that the project already has a bridge it can use - a leftover portion of the bridge that will span Highway 50.

The site is also outside the flood zone. The architect's two conceptual designs, though "pie in the sky," could accommodate 600 vehicles. Architect John Copoulos said that would be three times more parking than the Detroit site.

The size was also a consideration to commission Chairman Bob Hadfield.

"I don't want a postage stamp and then have to figure out how to expand it," he said.

The Detroit Lane site is adjacent to Highway 50 about a half-mile closer to Carson City than Hettrick's land, but it's located in the flood zone and Carson River flood plain. The chairman said to him that's a deal breaker.

"I think you're crazy to go anywhere near a FEMA flood zone," Hadfield said. "If you take it into a flood zone, you're taking it into trouble."

Building on Detroit Lane may also mean relocating an effluent pipeline that runs near the site.

"What we're building today must stand the test of time," said Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira, who also sits on the V&T board. "This is not just another tourist railroad, it's the tourist railroad.

Copoulos said he envisions a depot with a covered platform and a tower "to help vertically give some indication of where this terminal is." A ticket booth, museum store and snack bar would also be components in the design.

Hettrick said he's pleased with the board's decision, but they still have a long way to go. V&T engineers and architects designed the depot independently from his project.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


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