After a decade of work, and construction of 9 bridges, the $550 million 8.5 mile long I-580 project is now open to southbound traffic.

NDOT opened the lanes late Thursday night to traffic. They'll open the northbound lanes on Monday.

Discussions for this project started back in the 1970's and now, it's a reality.

"It's kind of bittersweet and there's a lot of people that put a lot of time and effort into it and they're really looking forward to it but they're also a little bit like 'Wow! It's here. It's done. Where do we go, now?'" says NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder.

About 75% of the 40,000 cars that drive Highway 395 through Pleasant Valley each day, are expected to use the new freeway.

NDOT says the road will be much safer, easier, and faster.

While safety was a driving force behind building I-580, officials say it is also much more functional than the old road.

"When you had a crash, it backed up vehicles for miles," Magruder said. "There was no alternate route. You had to go to either Virginia City or Lake Tahoe or even Fernley. So, in that regard, that road alone will now become a lot more pleasant for Pleasant Valley."

With a speed limit of 65 miles per hour and no traffic signals, the freeway will shave off plenty of drive time between Reno and Carson City.

"I've been commuting for 25 years," Magruder said. "So, it's very exciting for me because it is going to save me six to eight minutes and it's going to be a lot safer. So, I'm excited about it."

But officials remind us even though there are some great views along the way, the road is not meant for sightseeing.

"There's really no parking unless it's an emergency," Magruder said. "We don't want people parking, taking pictures, or something. We're a little concerned about that. This is a freeway. It's a limited access, divided, high-speed road."

Once both directions are open, construction will continue on the Bower's Mansion interchange, where I-580 and US 395 connect, in Washoe Valley. That work should be completed in October.