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OPINION: Support needed for USA Parkway linking I-80 to U.S. 50


Dennis Stark, member of Nevada's Bicycle Advisory BoardHighway will connect Lyon and Storey counties and bring economic development to region

Submitted by Dennis Stark

YERINGTON, Nev. – Northern Nevada has an opportunity for much needed economic development. The USA Parkway Project is a proposed highway link between Lyon and Storey counties. It is a link that will improve travel and the commute between Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50. Surrounding counties, such as Washoe County, will benefit by more efficient travel in and out of the region.

The Nevada Department of Transportation held in January a public meeting detailing the status of the project. At that meeting, it was indicated that the project is not funded for construction. However, the project is undergoing an environmental assessment in order to satisfy the National Environmental Policy Act. The NEPA review is needed if federal funding ever becomes available for this critical linkage.

More than five miles of USA Parkway in Storey County is already constructed – another nine miles is needed to extend the project into Lyon County. At the recent NDOT public meeting, the room was overflowing with participants asking, “When can we get this done?” In addition, the Lyon County Board of Commissioners in early February voted unanimously to support the project.

It is time to complete the project, and I am in favor of the USA Parkway and strongly support increased funding to see it finished in a timely manner. I have been offering support to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center developers (Lance and Len Gilman), the Silver Springs area and others.

The benefits of the USA Parkway are numerous. It would be a boon for Silver Springs, it would cut down commute time and it would directly benefit more than 100 businesses. Surrounding areas would also gain from the two-county link.

The biggest hold-up is that funding remains in doubt. The state has been trying to give back roads to local governments and has been reluctant to take on a new one, such as the Parkway. Also, the prevailing wage issue may drive up costs of the project, and supporters need to be aware of that. Lastly, a point of contention is: Who maintains the Parkway after it is built?

There are many positives to USA Parkway, but how do we truly know the benefits unless we complete the research, conduct hearings and gather input, and try to accomplish it for the benefit of Northern Nevada?

With widespread community support, the next step is securing the necessary funding for the USA Parkway. I encourage our state leaders and congressional delegation to support this critical linkage between two of Nevada’s counties.

Lyon and Storey counties have been among the hardest hit by the economic recession, and the USA Parkway is literally one of the roads that can help get Nevada out of the recession.

Dennis Stark is a consultant and former county manager of Lyon County. He may be reached at denniswstark.info.


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