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Road work, heat to test car lovers’ mettle
by Jill Lufrano
Aug 07, 2012 | 2041 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan McGee - A 1957 Chevy leads the backup Monday stretching to the next signal, through the intersection of Kietzke Land and Moana Lane.
Tribune/Dan McGee - A 1957 Chevy leads the backup Monday stretching to the next signal, through the intersection of Kietzke Land and Moana Lane.
SPARKS — As the Reno-Sparks region busts open its doors for an estimated 800,000 guests this week, Hot August Nights will stay true to tradition by bringing in temperatures that reach into the low 100s in Sparks as classic cars cruise the streets and visitors swelter as they peruse the chrome and leather beauties.

That is, if visitors make it here without incident.

The Nevada Highway Patrol responded to two accidents near the Pyramid Way off-ramp on Interstate 80 during the Monday morning commute — including one that involved a classic car, Trooper Chuck Allen said. The second accident occurred a few minutes later near the East McCarran Boulevard exit. A vehicle traveling westbound was involved in the accident and the motorist was transported to the hospital for treatment. Another multi-vehicle crash occurred on Interstate 80 eastbound at Rock Boulevard in the late afternoon, causing traffic to back up to the Reno exits.

The massive onslaught of construction projects that have blanketed the region the past few months will come to a halt this week as local and state entities shut every major project from Carson City to north Reno and Sparks to yield to attendees of one of the region’s most popular events.

However, the cones, road closures and torn-up travel lanes will remain. Nearly every major freeway, off-ramp and heavily traveled road in the area has seen some construction this summer, and many are still undergoing work.

As part of their plans, the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation District promised to cease construction during Hot August Nights.

“The good news is, we’re not doing any major work during (this) week,” NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said. “It’s the No. 1 tourist event of the year. With all the classic cars, the last thing we want (is any) major impact to any traffic.”

Last week, NDOT opened three ramps on Interstate 80: the east off- and on-ramp to Wells Avenue and the on-ramp to West Fourth St.

“That’s huge,” Magruder said. “That was our goal, and the contractor made it. The only one ramp closed now on Interstate 80 is the westbound on ramp to Fourth Street.”

The interstate is still narrowed to three lanes in many areas and the ramps in the Spaghetti Bowl area remain narrowed to one lane in order to slow drivers as they enter Interstate 80 from U.S. 395.

“There are a few spots,” Magruder said. “We are still laying restrictions on Interstate 80.”

The construction on that stretch of highway won’t be complete until October or November, he said.

As for the RTC, spokesman Michael Moreno said the Moana Lane widening project, especially where it affects Kietzke Lane, will halt during the week and the traffic lights will be in operation. But, the cones that are spread through a lengthy stretch of Kietzke Lane — taking drivers through a sketchy obstacle course as they attempt to follow arrows pointing in awkward directions around a torn-up road — will remain.

“There will be minimal traffic impacts during Hot August Nights,” Moreno said.

Virginia Street will be opened to two lanes in either direction again, however.

“On Virginia Street, obviously the opening of the two lanes will provide for better traffic flow, given the circumstances,” Moreno said.

Moreno said he hoped the halting of construction will further encourage shoppers to visit the businesses along the construction routes during and after the event.

Neil Grows of Klassic Kruisers Car Club in Reno said the construction and sweltering heat shouldn’t bother the car collectors.

“Most of cruising takes place in Sparks and it’s all controlled cruising,” Grows aid. “You don’t have to worry about the cones and stuff like that. You get there and park and stay all day. There’s not a whole lot of moving. So, the construction is not hurting us all that much. It’s hurting more the ones that want to see the cars.”

Grows said he plans to find a cool place to park and stay for the day. Most people bring chairs and keep cool during the event. As the sun goes down, the cars rev their engines and cruise the streets.

“The cruise lines are supposed to be pretty much down this year,” he said. “It’s registered this year. It eliminates a lot of crowding.”

Some of the events will take place during the hottest days of the week, when temperatures in Sparks are expected to reach more than 100 degrees.

Evening cruises will take place in Sparks from 7 to 10 p.m. today through Friday and in downtown Reno starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. The Grand Sierra will hold a Ride & Drive event where attendees can ride with stunt drivers in souped-up classic muscle cars today through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A Demolition Derby will be held at the Reno Events and Livestock Center on Wells Avenue from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, when forecasters predict temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s.

The NHP will maintain a heavy presence during the event to encourage drivers to slow down and remain aware of traffic, Allen said.

“It’s all about not being in a hurry, not making unsafe lane changes, anticipating traffic slowing throughout this entire week,” Allen said. “Older cars will tend to overheat. We will be busy.”

Allen recommends to motorists that if they do become stranded, they can call in their emergency by dialing *647, or 687-0400. The call will be routed to a Department of Public Safety dispatcher who will send out assistance.

“Our goal is to keep the lanes open at all times,” Allen said.
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