Driving downtown might look different in the next few weeks as work to update the Reno Arch begins. The renovation will replace the 80s inspired design with silver and blue.
The Reno City Council voted 4-3 in December to change the colors after 3,000 city residents participated in a survey and 52 percent voted to change the colors to silver and blue.
Not all council members wanted to follow the survey results. The three members — Naomi Duerr, David Bobzien and Jenny Brekhus — voted against silver and blue because it hewed to close to the University of Nevada, Reno’s branding. Mayor Hillary Schieve and other members that voted in favor of the survey said the university colors are coincidental, but it is preferred because the council wants to connect downtown to UNR.
Not everyone is a fan of the modern update of the city’s iconic attraction.
Reno native and sign collector Will Durham urged people to vote to keep the neon lights in the “RENO” part of the arch while the survey was out in December.
“LED means nothing to Nevada. Neon means everything,” Durham told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “There’s something you can’t explain about neon; there’s a definite magic to it.”The Reno City Council will decide later if they will replace the neon in the sign if they find the funding for it.
YESCO Sign Company estimated it would cost a little more than $225,000 to re-wrap the arch, upgrade wiring, repair bulb panels and repaint the body.
The funds will come from the room tax fund, capital surcharge fund and Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.
“It’s a big tourist element, so we’re looking at RSCVA or the casinos; because honestly thousands of pictures are taken in front of that arch. It’s sort of our symbol, right?” Schieve told the RGJ.
As the modification begins, northbound traffic on Virginia Street will be detoured to Second, Center and Plaza streets. The detour will be in effect for the next week.
Right now, workers are painting the RENO part of the sign on both sides. After that, they will replace the gold with stainless steel and “The Biggest Little City in the World” will also be painted white and blue.
The city will reveal the completely updated sign around Reno’s 150th birthday celebration on May 9.
Madeline Purdue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.