NDOT must re-examine I-11 routes before approval

A comment period ends April 13 for residents and local governments to express their concerns or choices for Interstate 11, a north-south thoroughfare to help with the movement of vehicles and freight from Las Vegas to Interstate 80.

As we reported last week, a 2014 joint study determined the high-level connectivity involves the fast track along the U.S. 95 corridor. The Nevada Department of Transportation’s Planning and Environmental Linages (PEL) has been developing and evaluating corridor alternatives. The segment from Tonopah and Las Vegas is set and restricted because of topographical constraints and land management patterns.

NDOT has narrowed its alternatives to four routes, and after listening to concerns of local residents and government officials, only one route appears good for Churchill County. To review the routes from Tonopah to I-80, they are as follows:

B1 — This route traverses mostly federal land and crosses northwest toward Salt Wells, 15 miles east of the city, and intersects U.S. 95 north of Fallon.

B2 — This route follows U.S. 95 but heads east around Walker Lake and then north toward Churchill County veering northwest across Naval Air Station Fallon Navy training grounds, across U.S Highway 50, to Fernley.

B3 — This route follows B2 to north of Walker Lake but then heads northwest in Lyon County through prime Mason Valley agricultural land and skirts Yerington on its way toward Silver Springs and then Fernley.

B4 — This route heads west from the northern point of Walker Lake through Wilson Canyon in southern Lyon County and then skirts the Sierra Nevada range from south of Gardnerville to Reno, which, on paper, appears to parallel I-580.

Now, let us be the devil’s advocate:

• Both B3 and B4 should be rejected outright. B3, we believe, is not following the original intent of the study. To rip up prime agricultural land for an interstate also doesn’t seem logical although Lyon County officials may differ.

• For B4, the aim should be for a more direct route to I-80, not adding to the out-of-control growth in Washoe County and perhaps Carson City and destroying prime land in in Douglas and southern Lyon counties. Reno is already a study in unbridled growth and lack of infrastructural pre-planning for its current economic boom.

• B2 follows the U.S. Highway 95 corridor and then it follows a path east of Walker Lake. Once the Interstate nears Fallon, it avoids the city and it begins to head northwest at Carson Lake and ties in at Fernley. What planners didn’t consider was a Navy training range under consideration for expansion and an emergency area for moving excess water in case Lahontan Reservoir flows over capacity.

• While B1 looks good for Churchill County, it completely avoids Mineral County by taking an easterly route, thus possibly spelling economic doom for Hawthorne and hurting Schurz. Before NDOT approves a route, we strongly urge the agency to take into account both Churchill and Mineral counties’ concerns and follow U.S. 95 to protect both areas’ economic vitality. To accept B2, however, the state must route the freeway closer to Fallon.

Of course, it may be generations before an Interstate extends from Las Vegas to I-80, a distance of 450 miles. After all, to complete the 9.7-mile bypass around Carson City took almost 40 years from planning to completion, so anything the state sets out to do may be accomplished when most of us — including our children — have departed this world.

To provide comments:

Letters and comment forms

Kevin Verre

Nevada Department of Transportation

1263 S. Stewart St.

Carson City, NV 89712

email: kverre@dot.nv.gov

voicemail: 1-775-888-7712

Editorials appear on Wednesdays in the LVN.


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