I’ve lived in Reno, Nevada, USA for 15 years and one thing that has confused me is the identity of main north-south freeway through northern Nevada. To most it is known simply as ‘395’ and it is the only north-south freeway between I-5 in California and I-15 in Utah. When I first moved here I sometimes mistakenly called it I-395 because it is a freeway (access only by on or off ramps); however, the ‘395’ is officially ‘US 395’. Recently I learned that the road does have a federal designation, which is Interstate 580 or I-580; however, no where on the freeway can you find signage for I-580. Why?
For decades Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has been working to upgrade US 395 into a north-south freeway from Hallelujah Junction north of Reno (in California) through the communities of Reno and Carson City with the ultimate plan to continue it south of Carson City. The Federal designation for this upgrade has been Interstate 580 or I-580. According to one source, at one point in the 1980’s signage was put on the section of I-580 in Reno; however, for unknown reasons it was removed. Thus, Reno has an Interstate that is not identified as such, and is still known by an identifier associated with highways.
One thing I have learned in living in Reno is that there is a strong sentiment among ‘natives’ to hang on to the past, and an even stronger dislike for the Federal government. My best guess is that there is reluctance of renaming the freeway by its correct designation for fear of upsetting the natives. I know at least a dozen people who would say something to the effect of, “I don’t care what they say, 395 is 395, and you can’t make me call it anything different!”
I actually don’t care what designation it is given, but it is an Interstate and I’m interested in how long it will take before it is referred to by its correct identifier. Rumor has it that once the link between south Reno and Washoe Valley is complete the I-580 designation will be finally given to the Interstate, but I’m not holding my breath. Nevada schools are consistently the worst in the nation, so learning new things is not a popular sport in this State.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by confusion over I-580. Nevada has a long history of avoiding reality. Just try using the correct pronunciation of Nevada (Ne-va-da) and you will have every native acting like they invented the Spanish language and tell you it is pronounced Ne-vad-duh.
That pretty much says it all.
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