RENO — Several years of planning and construction allowed Gov. Brian Sandoval to drive a 1930s classic car across the final completed bridge in the I-580 Freeway Extension Project. The grand opening ceremony marked the completion of the interstate between Reno and Carson City.
As Hot August Nights cars crossed the bridge, the Nevada Department of Transportation and affiliates of the Federal Highway Administration celebrated the completion of the $430 million contract.
“It is great because the majority of motorists will be able to use a divided highway,” said Scott Magruder, Public Information Officer for NDOT. “The center barrier eliminates head-on collisions and makes the entire freeway safer, which was always our main focus on this project.”
Magruder said about 40,000 motorists travel between Reno and Carson City each day and that the bridge will likely save them a few minutes during their commute, as well as keep them safe.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez was on hand for the celebration and said the benefits of the new freeway will be seen for years to come.
“This freeway will make it easier to access jobs, supporting employment in the area well into the future,” he said. “It represents an investment in transportation with long-term benefits for people across the region.”
The growth of the Washoe County area has seen expansions in Pleasant Valley and north Washoe Valley in remarkable numbers, causing congested roadways and giving officials reason to anticipate more growth in the future. With a six-lane freeway, traffic congestion will be eased.
“I think people are really excited to have this freeway open, especially people in Pleasant Valley who are basically getting their community back,” Magruder said adding that NDOT workers and crew are excited to see their project complete. “So many people came together for this project and it has been a long time coming. We are all very happy with the end result and we think the public will be too.”
Magruder said NDOT plans to have motorists hit the new freeway the week of Aug. 20 once their team finishes some cleaning and minor detail work. Nine bridges, totaling 5,082 feet, span the 8.4 miles of freeway and four of them are equipped with automatic de-icers.
The de-icers will spray the decks of the bridges with a salt brine solution, composed of potassium acetate, when the temperature reaches 32 degrees or lower. Magruder said the spray solution may alarm drivers who see the road is wet, but the solution is intended to keep the bridge decks from freezing.
“The decks receive more air because of their location so it is important to use anything we can to keep it from freezing,” Magruder said. “(The de-icers) are used in a few other states and in Europe so it is cool to be a part of that. We will still be out there plowing, but this gives us a head start.”
Magruder said having nine bridges in less than a nine-mile stretch is a bit unusual and posed a challenge for NDOT and for the designers. Building on the rough terrain was a time-consuming task, but he said the safety of the freeway will tested thoroughly before opening the freeway.