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Author Topic: The US Routes of Fernley and Wadsworth  (Read 2530 times)

Max Rockatansky

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The US Routes of Fernley and Wadsworth
« on: October 22, 2021, 03:43:53 PM »

Fernley in particular has a lot of weird stuff going on with US 95A and US 50A:

Fernley and Wadsworth lie near the Lyon/Washoe County Line in northwest Nevada.  Historically Fernley and Wadsworth were tied together via the corridor US Route 40.  Despite the decommissioning of US Route 40 in Nevada circa 1974 the corridor of Fernley remains an active part of US Route 95A and US Route 50A.  Fernley has seen numerous alignments of US Route 95 and even has a rogue alternate alignment of US Route 50 which was signed for two decades prior to AASHTO approval.  Pictured as the blog cover is 1936 Fernley Underpass which was part of US Route 40 on Main Street in Fernley.

https://www.gribblenation.org/2021/10/the-us-routes-of-fernley-and-wadsworth.html
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Sub-Urbanite

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Re: The US Routes of Fernley and Wadsworth
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2021, 05:00:30 PM »

It's a really weird configuration, and I think it may have been weird even 30 years ago when Fernley was a postage stamp on the map.

I imagine NDOT isn't going to clarify the situation there until they decide on an I-11 alignment (and I imagine that the USA Parkway to Silver Springs to Schurz "line" will be the favorite. But it seems like a better mainline intersection to the US50A expressway would make sense. Also would make sense if the I-80 guide sign to Las Vegas was for 50A and not 95A.
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roadfro

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Re: The US Routes of Fernley and Wadsworth
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2021, 10:40:09 AM »

Thanks for sharing this write-up Max. I had researched a bit of this strange history in making some edits to the Nevada US 95-related articles on Wikipedia years ago, but cool to read about it with some additional AASHTO documentation that I didn't have access to at the time.

It's a really weird configuration, and I think it may have been weird even 30 years ago when Fernley was a postage stamp on the map.

I imagine NDOT isn't going to clarify the situation there until they decide on an I-11 alignment (and I imagine that the USA Parkway to Silver Springs to Schurz "line" will be the favorite. But it seems like a better mainline intersection to the US50A expressway would make sense. Also would make sense if the I-80 guide sign to Las Vegas was for 50A and not 95A.

Yeah, the whole US route configuration around Fernley doesn't make sense from the typical route assignment perspective. US 95 Alt (from Schurz to Fernley) as it exists today makes sense with historical context, but less so once US 95 mainline was diverted out of Fernley. US 50 Alt makes no sense either. As neither alt route is comparable to their mainlines, they wouldn't get numbered as alternate routes today. But I imagine that this was NDOT's way of keeping all these highways on the US highway system given the options available at the time all this happened (as I'd guess they were less likely to get a 3dUS number and "spur" didn't seem to be a banner type).

The I-80 guide signage is a little bit wacky in both directions and inconsistent for all three Fernley & Wadsworth interchanges, given the configuration. For eastbound, an identical US 95 Alt South sign for Yerington & Las Vegas is actually placed before the West Fernley interchange (westbound as shown in the blog it's placed before the East Fernley interchange). But signing US 95 Alt South for Las Vegas isn't unreasonable—the US 95A/Yerington and US 50A-US 50-US-95/Fallon routes are similar distances with US 95A being about 3 miles longer (but shorter if you know some of the back roads to bypass Yerington). But I have always thought it odd that Las Vegas isn't signed with US 50A as well since, historically, more Vegas-bound traffic tends to go that way—I'd guess since they already had Fallon and Ely on the signs, they didn't want a third city based on MUTCD.
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Roadfro - AARoads Pacific Southwest moderator since 2010, Nevada roadgeek since 1983.

Max Rockatansky

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Re: The US Routes of Fernley and Wadsworth
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2021, 11:31:40 AM »

Something that I’m interested me pertaining to Fernley was that NDOT seemingly strong armed the AASHTO into accepting US 50A.  It was odd to see so many applications denied even though 50A showed up for several years on state highway maps.  I wonder what made the AASHTO finally relent after almost two decades of rogue signage?
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US 89

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Re: The US Routes of Fernley and Wadsworth
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2021, 12:02:49 PM »

It's a really weird configuration, and I think it may have been weird even 30 years ago when Fernley was a postage stamp on the map.

I imagine NDOT isn't going to clarify the situation there until they decide on an I-11 alignment (and I imagine that the USA Parkway to Silver Springs to Schurz "line" will be the favorite. But it seems like a better mainline intersection to the US50A expressway would make sense. Also would make sense if the I-80 guide sign to Las Vegas was for 50A and not 95A.

Yeah, the whole US route configuration around Fernley doesn't make sense from the typical route assignment perspective. US 95 Alt (from Schurz to Fernley) as it exists today makes sense with historical context, but less so once US 95 mainline was diverted out of Fernley. US 50 Alt makes no sense either. As neither alt route is comparable to their mainlines, they wouldn't get numbered as alternate routes today. But I imagine that this was NDOT's way of keeping all these highways on the US highway system given the options available at the time all this happened (as I'd guess they were less likely to get a 3dUS number and "spur" didn't seem to be a banner type).

This kind of thing has happened elsewhere in Nevada as well - see US 93 Alt in the eastern part of the state. It's not exactly a comparable alternate route to US 93 (it's about 50% longer in both time and mileage), but it was designated so that the road from Lages Junction to West Wendover could stay on the US system. That road used to be part of US 50 Alt, which split from 50 at Ely and reconnected at Spanish Fork UT, and was decommissioned when US 50 was rerouted in central Utah.

Alt 50 and Alt 93 do both make some sense if you think of them as ways to put additional towns on a route (Fernley for 50, West Wendover for 93). In a state like Nevada where population and motorist services are sparse, this can actually be pretty valuable.

 


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