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January 15, 2021 11:45 AM, EST

Nevada DOT Presses On With Reno Spaghetti Bowl Project

Crew works on road in NevadaA road crew works on the Spaghetti Bowl Xpress project in Reno, Nev. (Nevada DOT)

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The Nevada Department of Transportation is advancing construction for its project to renovate an interstate network in Reno known as the Spaghetti Bowl, which carries 260,000 vehicles per day.

The Spaghetti Bowl is a nickname for the interchange linking interstates 80 and 580. I-80 is a key east-west freight route that stretches from San Francisco to Teaneck, N.J. I-580 is a 35-mile route connecting Carson City to Reno. NDOT announced interstate ramp closures will intermittently take place through January as construction progresses.

The improvements are part of NDOT’s Spaghetti Bowl Xpress project. Through work spanning to 2022, the project aims to widen a portion of eastbound I-80 and add auxiliary merge lanes and improved ramps to southbound I-580. Additionally, the project will involve the construction of noise walls.

The Spaghetti Bowl is a nickname for the interchange linking interstates 80 and 580 in Reno, Nev. (Google Maps)

The interchange has been identified as an area of improvement by NDOT officials, as the region is expected to see an influx of people and commercial enterprises. Originally constructed between 1969 and 1971, the Spaghetti Bowl was designed for a population of about 130,000 people and accommodated about 90,000 vehicles daily.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Washoe County, which encompasses Reno, had grown to 471,519 people by 2019. NDOT data indicates Washoe County is expected to see an increase of about 147,000 people over the next 20 years.

“The Reno Spaghetti Bowl is northern Nevada’s largest interchange,” NDOT Project Manager Sajid Sulahria said. “As the Truckee Meadows population has grown by nearly four times since the Spaghetti Bowl was first constructed, it has led to congestion and a crash rate more than twice the average at the Spaghetti Bowl.”

In 2015, there were about three crashes per day in the Spaghetti Bowl area, according to NDOT. Truckee Meadows is a valley in western Nevada. The Truckee River passes through downtown Reno.

Launched in the summer of 2020, the Spaghetti Bowl Xpress project has already involved the reconstruction of aging concrete on northbound I-580.

The Spaghetti Bowl is an important commercial interchange for freight movement. Regionally, I-80 connects Reno to San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Sacramento, Calif. I-580 runs concurrently with U.S. Route 395, a key north-south route linking to California, Oregon and Washington. The Spaghetti Bowl Xpress project is intended to reduce congestion and enhance safety, thereby improving mobility and reliability for trucking and logistics operations.

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According to the Nevada State Freight Plan, the San Joaquin Valley of central California is an important trading partner for Nevada. The plan notes the processed food manufacturing centers in northern Nevada make use of the agricultural commodities grown in the San Joaquin Valley. Nevada also has trade linkages to the Midwest and East Coast states through freight hub cities such as Denver, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio.

Without future infrastructure improvements, population growth is anticipated to lead to travel delay increases of 53% through the Spaghetti Bowl by 2040. Unless improvements are made, evening rush hour travel times on westbound I-80 through downtown Sparks and Reno are projected to increase from 4.4 minutes in 2016 to 22.4 minutes in 2040. Situated on I-80, Sparks is a city located 4 miles east of Reno.

NDOT plans to improve about 12 miles of interstate highway in the Reno metropolitan area over the next two decades.

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