Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Since the idea was first proposed as a hypothetical almost 20 years ago, people in various part of Lyon County have debated what a road that connects U.S. 50 with Interstate 80.
The highway, which will open next week, undoubtedly opens up new opportunities for employment through shorter commutes for residents in the Silver Springs, Dayton and Yerington areas, but the City of Fernley and Lyon County are taking a wait and see approach about what impacts will have on development, business and industry.
Fernley mayor Roy Edgington had a simple answer when asked if USA Parkway will be good or bad for Fernley.
“We don’t know,” he said. “I was having a conversation with the area director of NDOT, and he said roads take a life all their own.”
Edgington has said in the past that Fernley needs to think regionally, and that what is good for western Nevada will be essentially good for Fernley.
“I think it’s good thing to open up the Silver Springs and Dayton areas,” he said.
Edgington said the highway will reduce truck traffic accessing Interstate 80 from U.S. 95A, but during the groundbreaking ceremony for the project a year ago, he cited a study that said Interstate 80 traffic could double in the next 10-15 years.
The biggest impact of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center has been the number of people moving to the area who need housing, and the opening of the USA Parkway will add Silver Springs, Dayton and even Yerington to the areas that are within reasonable commute distances to the industrial center.
“The challenge will be housing – where it goes, how much can get built, and how much it will cost,” Lyon County manager Jeff Page said. “The people with those jobs between $15 and $30 per hour will move to Lyon County.”
But, a huge influx of residential construction alone isn’t necessarily a boon for the county. Residential construction doesn’t provide nearly the tax base that commercial and industrial development does, but it increases the demand for services.
Page said there are several residential development companies in various stages of the development process in Silver Springs and Dayton. The county has attracted some industrial development in the past couple years, and the industrial park in Dayton out of inventory, with all but one building occupied.
Page said the county is working closely with the Northern Nevada Development Authority, which has also helped bring several businesses to Fernley. Many of them are companies that have moved from California because of lower costs in Nevada.
“We have the capacity now to show companies why they should move to Nevada as opposed to Idaho, Oregon or Arizona,” Page said.
Speaking during the ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 28, County Commission chairman Bob Hastings said the region must capitalize on the opportunities the highway presents.
“We now have those opportunities at our feet, but with that we also have great responsibility,” Hastings said. “We need to make sure as citizens, as elected officials, as businesses, that we stay diligent, that we continue to push forward, and we don’t squander the opportunity we’ve been given.”