Ask Joe: Did NDOT plan for growth when Spaghetti Bowl was built?

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From the Ask Joe file, a question about something we all love to bash: the Spaghetti Bowl.

Recently my colleague Kim Burrows reported on plans to overhaul the Spaghetti Bowl because it sees so much congestion.

One of our viewers wants to know why NDOT didn't make the section from eastbound I-80 to southbound I-580 two lanes instead of one when they first built it.

Here's what I found out:

NDOT sent us a photo showing the Spaghetti Bowl when it was built back in the 1970s.

Back then of course, there was a lot less traffic. That southbound stretch of what was then U.S. 395 -- now I-580 -- sees a lot of back ups on a daily basis.

Just to give you some perspective, statewide vehicle traffic was measured at 1.3 billion cars back in 1980. That figure jumped to 3.2 billion by 2011. So there are a lot more cars on the road, and you see that at interchanges like this.

That southbound stretch to I-580 was built as one lane back then. A few years ago, NDOT re-striped a second lane at the base of that ramp to accommodate a little more traffic, but that can only do so much.

The bottom line, as Kim reported on recently, is that NDOT is planning to re-do this stretch, but it will take years. Meg Ragonese with NDOT says they are fast tracking the review and public input process as much as possible to get things moving.

The bottom line is it has been impossible to predict the kind of growth Nevada has seen over the past few decades. Back in the '70s, NDOT says what they built seemed like it would do the job. And they say they planned appropriately.

Here we were are in 2017, and we've seen a lot of growth. That section of the Spaghetti Bowl is one of the places where drivers really feel the impact of that growth.

Changes are on the way, but it will take time.

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