Hot August roadblocks

When Hot August Nights comes to town, Reno citizens get the boot. Exits are closed, streets are barricaded, and the secret Hot August Nights (HAN) police—with their cheap lanyards and corny T-shirts—take over Virginia Street. All this is done so that shiny, old cars can create air pollution, congestion and casino revenue.

Does it even need to be said that the older the car, the less the environmentally friendly it is? Some of these automobiles—despite their fine paint jobs—spew exhaust into the air, fouling the big, blue Reno sky. Also, the fuel efficiency is much poorer than for modern vehicles, so gas stations are clogged with fuel hogs, which of course, creates delays for people who live here.

Reno’s construction-clogged roads are bad enough to drive on, but when the city decides to block freeway off-ramps to main thoroughfares for no apparent reason, things have gotten out of hand.

Nevada Department of Transportation officials say that the mock road construction on Interstate 80 West’s Virginia Street exit was requested by the city of Reno. Taxpayers paid for two large construction vehicles and a number of workers to close the ramp, which could have been blocked by less expensive means like a single traffic cop or construction cones.

Like a link in a chain, closing Virginia Street caused a massive backup on Keystone Avenue by more than doubling the amount of vehicles using the off-ramp.

The road closure seems foolish because many of the cars that were backed up on Keystone were classics driven by people who must have been wondering why the city would detour them miles away from the event.

Locals who decided to skip the downtown ruckus and hide away in West Reno were thwarted. The University of Nevada, Reno and its surrounding areas were cut off by a series of blockades on all the Virginia Street cross-streets from I-80 to McCarran. There was a Berlin Wall of this “special event” separating East and West Reno.

In a last-ditch effort to avoid the street closures south of McCarran, some motorists chose to cut across the parking area at the north end of the university, where there were hundreds of classic cars surrounded by the HAN police

The screaming HAN police waved lanyards and bellies trying to apprehend the lost and frustrated motorists. It was an obvious health hazard—with the HAN patrol risking cardiac arrest chasing errant automobiles.

When next August rolls around, Reno should consider keeping the official event south of the interstate and confined to the downtown area, where not as many residents will be blocked from their homes. It’s time to bring these “special” events under control

We all appreciate the money that groups like this bring into town, but locals—who don’t reap the financial rewards but do subsidize the events through tax dollars—shouldn’t be inconvenienced.