It's taken something like 10 years, but the 8.5 mile stretch of freeway between south Reno (at the Mt. Rose Highway) and Washoe Valley, and its iconic Galena Creek Bridge, opened to southbound traffic on Friday, August 24, and to northbound traffic on Monday, August 27.
Onramp for the I580 freeway in Reno, Nevada.
Image © Stan White
The new Nevada Interstate 580 wound up costing $575 million and was the last link in completing a freeway between the Reno / Sparks area and Carson City, Nevada's state capital. Both northbound and southbound cars can now use the route for the entire trip, saving an estimated 8 minutes over the old 395 road through Pleasant Valley and Washoe City. However, travelers from Carson City wanting to visit either of those places must take the old road until sometime in October. That's when the Bowers Mansion interchange will be finished, allowing northbound traffic to exit instead of being stuck on the freeway until reaching the Mt. Rose Highway.
One big benefit to the new I580 freeway is projected to be traffic safety. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal and the Nevada Department of Transportation, some 40,000 cars per day had been using the old road. From 1994 to middle of 2012, the toll was 1,610 accidents, 521 with injuries, and 33 people killed. It is estimated that around 75% of drivers will take the new freeway, significantly reducing the number of crashes on the old route. It will be much safer for local residents as well.
So, which is it now, Interstate 580 or U.S. 395? From what I've been able to determine, it's both, at least between Reno and Carson City. Go further north or south and it's just U.S. 395 as before. I'm not even going to try to explain how this works, but the curious can learn more from Wikipedia at "Numbered highways in the United States."
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