Trying to ease the north Reno gridlock

Improvements along U.S. 395 in the North Valleys are scheduled to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2025.

Improvements along U.S. 395 in the North Valleys are scheduled to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2025. Courtesy NDOT

There was a time when drivers could get almost anywhere in Reno-Sparks in about 20 minutes. Those days are well in the rearview, however.

Nowhere is the impact of unprecedented growth in the Truckee Meadows felt more than the commute to and from north Reno. And although relief is coming, it’s a long way off.

When improvements along U.S. 395 in the North Valleys are complete in the fourth quarter of 2025, residents can expect a slightly easier commute than the current slog that’s more in line with Silicon Valley than Northern Nevada.

The $230 million roadway project that began in November 2023 is being built as a joint venture between Q&D Construction and Road and Highway Builders. The need for the work was twofold: Traffic counts in the decade from 2011 to 2021 increased 28 percent from 64,000 to 82,500 vehicles per day (and North Valleys continues to be a hotbed for both residential and industrial construction activity); and existing paved roadbeds – laid in the late 1970s and early 1980s – have reached the end of their useful lifespan, the Nevada Department of Transportation said.

The roadwork is expected to ease heavy congestion for residents, as well as improve the flow of traffic for the plethora of semi-trucks that regularly use the northbound highway to reach customers in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, said Pat Vradenburg, resident engineer for NDOT.

“It’s a great opportunity to expand the highway,” Vradenburg said. “There are a lot of new warehouses out there, and there’s increased impact (on traffic) from the trucking industry. They use that corridor to go to Washington and Oregon, and we have seen a huge increase in trucking volumes.”

Major improvements in the current scope of work include:

 Adding a new southbound lane from Golden Valley Road to North McCarran Boulevard that will be constructed in the current median of the southbound freeway.

 Construct auxiliary lanes on all freeway ramps between North McCarran and Golden Valley.

 Construction of a braided freeway ramp along northbound U.S. 395 between the Panther Valley on-ramp and Golden Valley Road to create safer and smoother traffic flow. The braided freeway ramp will be similar to what was constructed on the southbound I-580 ramps at Mill and Second streets.

 Repaving both directions of U.S. 395 between north McCarran Boulevard and Golden Valley Road.

 Constructing five new sound walls, retaining walls, aesthetic enhancements and roadside ground treatments such as native plantings and rock similar to what’s been done in previous highway work throughout the region.

 Adding paved shoulders up to 12 feet wide to provide room for traffic incident management and roadside response.

 Widening existing bridges over arterial streets to improve traffic flows. 

Courtesy NDOT

Improvements along U.S. 395 in the North Valleys are scheduled to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2025.

Rick Bosch, assistant resident engineer with Diversified Consulting Services, told NNBW that the current work follows the initial $8 million phase that started with replacing the outdated bridge at Parr and Dandini boulevards. Q&D Construction demolished the old structure and replaced it with a new bridge in just 120 days.

“We have been doing a lot of earthwork in preparation for the widening, and we are doing a lot of drainage work to help with flows through the project,” Bosch said. “(This work) will improve that corridor so much when they are finished. It will be a huge improvement to traffic flows.”

Will Hellickson, area manager for Road and Highway Builders, said the toughest task facing the joint-venture construction team is accommodating the high volume of daily traffic traveling through the work zone.

“We have tried to create traffic patterns that allow us to work on both the inside and outside of the traffic patterns,” he said. “When we start the bridgework, we will have to narrow those lanes so we can demo parts of the existing bridges in order to add onto them.

“As with any job in an urban area with high traffic volumes, the biggest challenge is minimizing impacts on the traveling public while still getting our work done,” Hellickson added.

The southbound Panther Valley onramp was closed completely because of an unsafe merge distance for the traveling public, noted Bosch.

“Those are things we look at all the time in advance of any traffic control setups to make sure it accommodates the traffic we have and allows the public to safely get through the work zone,” he said.

With the first blush of spring just rearing its head, and summer travel season right around the corner, drivers can expect northbound paving work to commence soon. Bridgework will also begin and continue through next year. The current northbound traffic configuration will remain in place, RHB’s Hellickson said, and once the new paving is laid the traffic pattern will shift to the new roadway.

There are some expected nighttime lane closures, Hellickson added, but two lanes of traffic in each direction will remain open during the day, he said.

The next phase of U.S. 395 road work is expected to begin in 2026 and includes adding an additional lane in each direction between Golden Valley Road and Stead Boulevard, as well as repaving the existing concrete roadbed throughout that area. NDOT is also considering repaving the highway from Stead Boulevard to Cold Springs, though that work is currently not included in the current scope of work set to begin in 2026.

Meg Ragonese, NDOT’s public information officer for Northern Nevada, said commuters can get realtime information about the U.S. 395 North Valleys project in multiple ways:

 Text “NorthValleys” to 866-540-8466 to sign up for construction text alerts. 

 Contact the project hotline at (775) 636-4202.

 Visit for project information and key updates.

“We do want to keep community members who commute and travel on 395 updated, and that’s the primary way we do that,” Ragonese said.


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