Admit it. You’ve been curious. Every time you drive over the Keystone Avenue bridge or cross one of the main north-south thoroughfares downtown, you’ve wondered just how that trench is progressing.
The plan to drop the train tracks through Reno’s downtown into a 33-feet-deep trench was … controversial. But as the politics dropped to a low hum after the Aug. 22, 2002, contract award to Granite Construction; since then the buzz has changed to questions about traffic, timetables and engineering.
“So what’s going on beyond those high plywood walls?” you’ve wondered, as you passed in fits and starts under the Reno arch. The fences on the bridges were installed to foil rubberneckers like yourself and to keep the traffic flowing (when there isn’t a train stopped on the tracks), but couldn’t they at least put some windows in the danged things?
We’ve seen the trucks, dodged the roadblocks and peeked around the barriers, too. But our curiosity finally got the better of us, so we placed a call to Dante Pistone, external affairs manager for Granite Construction and the ReTRAC project.
Pistone was no slouch, and the ball was suddenly rolling like a runaway freight. Would the recent snowstorm derail a tour of the 2.25-mile project? Could it be too muddy for the front-end loaders, dump trucks and concrete pourers? Would the five days of fog make it impossible for a photographic exposition of the trench project thus far?
With Al Lord, Granite’s structural supervisor in charge of concrete, playing the role of Casey Jones, we plowed into the unknown.
“We’re about 80-85 percent done with the excavation,” Lord says. Assuming that’s true, then Granite has already removed some 480,000 cubic feet of soil.
ReTRAC is starting to take shape, and the difference between seeing a 33-feet-deep, 54-feet-wide trench on paper or walking on the poured concrete is like the difference between seeing a unsuspecting guy hit with a football on America’s Funniest Home Videos and actually being the guy. It’s incredible, and basically, useful adjectives fail there.