Throughout the past several months, Carson City’s downtown corridor has been under a flurry of construction in efforts to revitalize and improve the area.
The project, officially called the Carson Street Urban Design Project, is intended to transform the downtown corridor into more of a community attraction and to make downtown more pedestrian and bike-friendly.
“I think you will see more of an attraction for families to come down and walk around,” Brett Amesbury, project manager at Q&D Construction, said about the improvements to the downtown corridor.
Q&D Construction was awarded the $8.1 million contract to be the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) team on the project. They broke ground in March 2016.
Once the project is complete, Carson Street will be narrowed between Williams and 5th Streets to one lane in both directions with a center turn lane. They are also adding a five-foot bike lane on each side of the street and widening the sidewalks.
The project started with the underground infrastructure improvements to the water line, the sewer line, storm drains and adding a fiber optics line.
“With an older road and not much known underneath, that was definitely a challenge,” Amesbury said.
According to a May article in the Nevada Appeal, Q&D found several underground gas and heating oil tanks, a lateral sewer pipe from Mercury Cleaners and the more than 50-year-old sewer pipe and water main, which has had a number of leaks over the years.
About a month later, they started pulverizing the road to widen the sidewalks. Throughout the project, they have had to close lanes, streets and redirect traffic to Curry and Stewart streets for business access.
According to Amesbury, at the peak of the project they had around 40 Q&D construction workers.
The project also includes the addition of Bob McFadden Plaza, which opened this past July.
The plaza, located at 3rd Street between Carson and Curry Streets, is named after the late Bob McFadden, a Carson City businessman, Realtor and manufactured housing dealer who refurbished the St. Charles Hotel. The plaza creates an area for the community to gather and includes a 36-foot stage that is fully equipped for live entertainment and a 12-foot splash pad for kids to run through on hot days along with new landscaping and outdoor seating.
“It is a big attraction down there,” Amesbury said. “People are really excited for that splash pad.”
The plaza had previously been a one-way street with parking along Third Street.
According to Amesbury, businesses, like Firkin & Fox, are now setting up seating in the patio area for outdoor dining.
In August, they began planting about 100 trees in concrete planters on the new sidewalks. The project also includes additional landscaping and benches, the addition of two new bus turnouts in downtown, and about 20 new parking spots along Carson Street.
There are currently many vacant buildings downtown. According to Jeff Bean, senior vice president of the heavy/civil division at Q&D Construction, the improvements to the downtown corridor many help spur redevelopment.
“I think you are going to see a lot of redevelopment downtown,” Bean said when asked about how the project will benefit downtown Carson City. “There is a lot of vacancies right now.”
Throughout the project, there has been a significant amount of public outreach to keep citizens informed.
“Carson City has been really good about their outreach,” Bean said. “It has been the most interactive project I’ve been involved with as far as involving the community and the businesses.”
The city launched a website, carsonproud.com, to continually inform the Carson community about the progress of the construction and street closures. According to Q&D, the city also did extensive public outreach prior to breaking ground to hear what the community did and did not want in the project.
The city and Q&D also worked with the local businesses that were impacted by the street and sidewalk closures due to the construction.
“There is an impact on the businesses, there is no way around that,” Bean said. “We really do try to minimize the impact. There is always an effort made to communicate to the business owners.”
“Some were happy some were not happy,” Chris Barrett, vice president of business development and external affairs, said about business owners in the downtown corridor. “At the end of the day when this project is completed, it is going to be more walkable, bike-friendly and pedestrian friendly. It will be a huge benefit to businesses along that street.”
They are currently on their last phase of paving. All work except for the new crosswalks is expected to be complete by Nevada Day.
“(After Nevada Day) we will essentially just be working on the crosswalks,” Bean said. “But they are slow and tedious and they might impact traffic more then anything we have done so far.”
Q&D expects all construction to be completed by Thanksgiving.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.