Heightened Olympics security extends to Nevada
RENO (AP) — The heightened security surrounding the Salt Lake City Games is extending to Nevada highways.
Civil Air Patrol pilots are checking not only for accidents and jams on Interstate 80, but for any suspicious activity. They’re patrolling the entire 410-mile stretch of I-80 from the Reno area to Wendover.
“They have a contingency plan; if they see anything suspicious they can contact (the Fallon Naval Air Station) directly,” Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Pat McGill told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The base, located 60 miles east of Reno, trains military pilots from across the country and is home to the Top Gun flight school.
Because Salt Lake City can’t handle the increased air traffic, many foreign dignitaries are flying into Reno or Las Vegas, then driving to the Games, McGill said.
The Nevada Department of Transportation has reported a 50 to 75 percent increase in I-80 traffic across Nevada since the Games began Feb. 8.
On that day, about 3,500 eastbound cars passed through Wells on I-80 as motorists headed toward the Games, said NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder. That’s up from 2,000 eastbound vehicles the same date last year.
“It’s a significant increase, and we’re attributing that to the Olympics,” Magruder said.
The Civil Air Patrol, working in conjunction with the NHP, is looking for traffic jams, wrecks and anything else that might slow traffic flow, said Reno Composite Squadron spokeswoman Judy Robins.
“We’re also looking for anything unusual that might be off the side of the road,” she said.
“We felt it would be good to not only have eyes on the ground, but eyes in the air,” McGill said. “If there is an accident or a stranded motorist, they can immediately contact us so we can get a trooper out there at a faster rate.”
As soon as the Games end, Salt Lake City will host the Winter Special Olympics. The Civil Air Patrol flights over I-80 will continue until the Special Olympics end in March.
The Civil Air Patrol is a nonprofit organization that mostly performs search-and-rescue missions.