Bridge over Galena Creek might be done by end of next year

CARSON CITY — Northern Nevada’s version of the soon-to-open highway bridge over the Colorado River won’t be completed until late 2011 or early 2012.

Scott Magruder, a Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman, said construction of the $500 million, 8.5-mile freeway and bridges between Reno and Washoe Valley, north of Carson City, is progressing well without any problems.

Work on the freeway was halted several years ago when the initial contractor was concerned about strong winds toppling the 1,722-foot concrete arch bridge over Galena Creek.

The bridge span will be one of the longest in the world but about 200 feet smaller than the span over the Colorado River.

Fisher Industries, out of Arizona, was hired as the new contractor, and it has largely completed the span.

The freeway is being built 300 feet above the valley floor on the side of mountains.

Motorists will cross over seven different bridges, including the huge span, and get breathtaking mountain and valley views.

Because the area is prone to heavy snows and strong winds, Magruder said trucks and high-profile vehicles will be advised to take alternative routes on some winter days. Automatic ice melting devices will be built into the pavement on four bridges, but still snow plows will be needed to push away heavy snows.

About 40,000 cars now travel along U.S. Highway 395 each day between Reno and Carson City. About three-fourths of them are expected to switch to the new freeway.

Magruder said the plan is to have a 70 mph speed limit on the freeway. But he acknowledged that some people have expressed concern about driving on snowy days on a freeway far above the valley.

A 4-foot-high wall will help prevent out-of-control cars from toppling off the freeway.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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