North Virginia Street is slow going with major construction work…still down to one lane each direction, and both commuters and businesses are struggling. It began over 6 and a half months ago. Over 1 mile of north Virginia, and some side streets, are still torn up from 8th to Sierra Streets to bury new sewer pipe, water and gas lines. Project Manager Kerrie Koski from City of Reno Public Works told us, "It had to be done, yes it did. With the growth and with the aged pipes, we had to come and put in some 30-inch pipe."
Those pipes are buried. Workers are now resurfacing. Students, now here for orientation, are walking the obstacle course. Commuters like Marshall Carter, calling in late to work. "They had a guy there directing traffic, and he just ignored our lane for 15 minutes because all the equipment had to keep coming through!"
To say it's been a disruption is an understatement. Even high school graduation ceremonies had to be moved from Lawlor to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. In the beginning of the year the city said it would all be finished August 5th. What do they say today? Koski told us, "I say we'll be finished with the main work by August 5th. We're on track."
They told us it's on schedule and on-budget, finishing in time for Hot August Nights and the coming flood of students. But it may be too late for Moe Alazawi at his Wolf Fast Stop convenience store/gas station. We asked him how business was. He told us, "There's no business, what are we talking about? We don't have any business left. It is a ghost town this side of town!"
In numbers, his business is down a big 60%. It's been so slow for so long, Alazawi says it just might kill Reno's "arm and leg" gas station. He may have to close. "I'm almost close to bankruptcy. I'm serious. I've been borrowing money left and right from every friend I know."
The challenge for businesses is great. Down the street, the Wolf Den Restaurant is like an island surrounded in a sea of orange…on 2 sides of it, College and north Virginia are torn up…even an entrance to its parking lot is roped off. But the city says hang in there for another 2 and a half weeks. Come that day, just about everyone will be celebrating the day north Virginia Street is back to its old self. Project Manager Koski told us, "I keep telling my crew I'm going to dance in this street when this gets paved. I'm not kidding."
-written by John Potter
The City of Reno is providing weekly updates on this construction project online. To see it for yourself, just copy and paste this link: