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Carson City bypass comes with potentially expensive condition

Carson City got the state’s commitment Wednesday to build the bypass by 2010.

But that commitment came with a warning that cities and counties are going to have to take over the roads replaced by projects like the bypass.

“When we do these local roads,” said Gov. Kenny Guinn, “we eventually have to turn them back over to the local entities. We’re going to start turning them back when we run parallel with them.”



Guinn said that means Carson City will get back Carson Street once the bypass is finished – including all the costs of maintaining and repairing the street.

In fact, Guinn said he wanted that as part of the agreement worked out with Carson City over landscaping and other construction details along the bypass route.




Mayor Ray Masayko told Guinn during the meeting he agreed philosophically that the city should control Carson Street and that he would present that to the Supervisors along with the approved agreement.

City Manager John Berkich, however, said the comments raised some concerns.

“I agree with the concept of local control of Carson City’s main street but with the number of roads that are state owned in Carson City, if that policy went a lot further it would have a significant fiscal impact on the city,” said Berkich.

Carson City has 251 miles of roads, more than 20 percent of which are state owned and maintained. That is a higher percentage than most counties and includes arterials like Stewart Street, Fairview, Roop, Mountain and College Parkway as well as Carson Street.

“I don’t know what it would cost but it could be very expensive if we got all those,” said Berkich.

State transportation spokesman Scott Magruder agreed road maintenance is very expensive. The NDOT budget includes more than $100 million worth of maintenance for the coming fiscal year.

As an example, he said the cost to repave Carson Street will pass $3 million by the time it is completed. In addition, he said the city would have to take over small repairs like potholes, lane and crosswalk striping and costs such as cleaning during summer and snow plowing in the winter.

Guinn said the state shouldn’t have control of them or the responsibility for maintaining those streets and can no longer afford it.

“What are we doing with a Mountain Street or even a Stewart Street? We need to look at all of those,” he said.

The issue came up during a discussion of the NDOT request to deed parts of Paradise along the Las Vegas Strip to the county to enable construction of the Monorail. Pointing out that the county and state share ownership of different parts of several roads in that area, Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa said the state and Clark as well as other counties need to sit down and talk “about who owns what road.”

Guinn there are a lot of similar situations in addition to the Strip area and Carson Street.

“I don’t care whether it’s politically correct, we’re not going to maintain two roads in Washoe Valley side by side,” he said referring to the I-580 extension which will bypass old U.S. 395 through Pleasant Valley.

Altogether, there are more than 45,000 miles of roads in Nevada – about half of them “unimproved.” Of that total, 5,492 miles including the interstate highway system and “state routes” such as the highways up Mount Rose and Geiger Grade are state maintained.

At issue are the 354 miles of “other improved roads” on the state system – many of them arterial streets in urban areas. That number has grown over the years as the state built new roads but, in many cases, kept responsibility for the old ones.

Berkich said he was concerned with the price tag.

“It’s something we’ll have to study with the governor,” he said. “Combined with the facilities maintained by the state in Carson City, the percentage of use, it could be very substantial.”

Guinn said he is aware the state has significant road holdings in the Capital and that he’s willing to work with Carson officials.

“We’re going to work with them because we don’t pay taxes on our buildings,” said Guinn. “But those things are good business decisions for us and good local control decisions.”


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