RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - During a Draft Environmental Impact Statement hearing, Nevada transportation officials focused on getting the public's input on their preferred alternative before they take the next steps to finalize the environmental process of the project.
Nevada Department of Transportation project manager Dale Keller says the drafted solution addresses the safety and mobility needed around the spaghetti bowl.
"We're not taking a bite size. We're looking at a holistic approach and we're looking to find a solution that's going to be lasting us 25-plus years."
The $2.4 billion proposed project will take 20 years to finish. There will be five phases. The first phase, beginning in 2020, addressing what Keller says is the most immediate need, the Wells/I-580 southbound interchange.
"We’re going to change how Wells Avenue comes on. We’re actually going to dedicate two lanes on I-80 eastbound to that system ramp that we have out there today southbound. In addition we’re adding from three lanes up to six lanes on the southbound lanes to help out with that weaving distance.”
Keller says one goal of Wednesday's meeting was to make the community aware of the impact this plan will have regarding roughly 300 residential and commercial displacements in the Northwest quadrant of the Spaghetti Bowl, around the Mineral Manor area.
"We do recognize that is our biggest community impact, but rest assured both owners and renters have protection."
There are federal requirements to help with relocations and help with housing assistance. Keller adds, NDOT plans to extend help above and beyond what's required.
Another aim of the hearing is informing the public on how the Plumb Lane interchange would work. The preferred alternative currently removes all direct connect ramps to the airport; taking the three current entrance routes to the airport and leaving only one.
"If there is an accident, and with what they are proposing right now with one entrance, at five o'clock in the morning, that leaves 2,000 people on a given day could miss their flights,” says Reno Tahoe Airport spokesman Brian Kulpin. “That's not something we want to do to an entity that generates 3.1 billion dollars in economic impact each year."
Kuplin adds it's vital that the southbound access ramp into the airport be saved.
The final decision on the project has not been made. NDOT officials say the community's input is still encouraged. Written comment will be accepted until January 15, 2019 via e-mail at email@example.com.