CARSON CITY — Routes through western Nevada that could become part of an Interstate 11 freeway corridor linking Mexico and Canada have made the first cut for future study, local officials and the public were told Wednesday by transportation officials studying the options.
Routes through central and eastern Nevada that would run to Elko or Wells did not make the final list of potential routes for the proposed Intermountain West Corridor, although one of the preferred alternatives would see the freeway head northeast from Fernley to Winnemucca and then on to Idaho close by Boise.
The recommendations were up for review by regional officials and the public at separate meetings held in the capital. A meeting to review the routes through the Las Vegas region will be held today.
An Intermountain West Corridor is being evaluated as part of the proposed Interstate 11 project that would connect Phoenix and Las Vegas, but it is years away from reality.
The top-rated route north from Las Vegas would follow U.S. Highway 95 to Fernley, head west to Reno then up U.S. Highway 395 into southern Oregon.
The second option would follow U.S. 95 to Fernley, but then head northeast through Winnemucca to Idaho.
The third option closely mirrors the first but would depart from U.S. 95 at Tonopah, heading west to U.S. 395 in California and running through Douglas County and Carson City before moving through Reno north into southern Oregon.
Criteria to evaluate the different routes included economics, land use and ownership, community acceptance and cost, among others. The Reno-Fernley area has substantially more economic activity than the Elko-Wells region in the eastern part of the state.
Sondra Rosenberg, who is heading up the review for the Nevada Department of Transportation in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Transportation, said that following the public meetings, the Northern Nevada Future Connectivity Segment Assessment Report will be completed.
Future studies will be needed to analyze in greater detail the three recommended corridors, she said. Public comments, which could change the rankings of the various alternatives, will be accepted through Nov. 1.
“There is this big gap in the interstate system in Nevada in terms of north-south connectivity,” Rosenberg said.
There is no such link between Interstate 5 in California, Oregon and Washington and Interstate 15 in Utah, a 600-mile gap, she said.
“This study is really looking at what is the demand for an additional high-capacity corridor,” Rosenberg said.
The public session was sparsely attended.
Ron Vance, 74, of Dayton, said he won’t likely see the creation of the corridor in his lifetime but said it would be a boon for the economies of Las Vegas, Reno and other points along the route.
“But it really needs to have a rail capability between the two cities,” he said.
Rosenberg said California officials have indicated support for the new corridor because of the heavy use of I-5, and there is also interest from Boise about the route option that would run through Idaho. A new corridor in Nevada would provide a new transportation alternative while providing economic opportunities for Nevada, she said.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3900. Follow @seanw801on Twitter.