On Aug. 4, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) hosted a public forum to share ideas and gain public feedback on the transit system in the Reno/Sparks region for the next 20 years.
Walking into the Nugget Resort Casino’s community room, attendees were given stickers to place on 91 road projects to gauge the public’s top priorities. Other presentation boards dotting the back of the room showcased funding plans, maps and forecasts for Northern Nevada to help brace for a rising population and increased transportation needs.
The process to develop this plan has been taking place since early this year with some projects already in place. The RTC has hosted eight public forums and a community workshop in the past few months. Each of the forums was specific to figuring out the transportation needs of different user groups in the realms of economic development, freight, senior and ADA compliance, veterans, UNR-TMCC millennials, youth, community and the regional rail/bus transit system.
“We have had varied turnouts but the forums have been good,” RTC Planning Director Amy Cummings said. One of the main goals of the RTC is to create “complete streets,” ones that improve the mobility for everyone and giving people different traveling options.
In 2010, the RTC created buffered bike lanes on Victorian and Nichols Avenues- the only bike lanes of this kind in the State of Nevada. “Before there was a lack of safety, no landscaping or amenities,” said Cummings.
The RTC hosted this public meeting as another attempt to engage people in finding out what their transportation priorities are. “This really lays out the investments over the next 20 years,” Cummings added. She said that the RTC will compile the results from the Aug. 4 meeting and take it to the board for consideration of adoption at the end of the month.
“Some projects we’re just starting to look at; others are already in progress. Different communities in the region have different economic needs,” she added. With a current population of 120,671 that is expected to increase to over 565k by the year 2040, the RTC is thinking of ways to accommodate the majority and support the coming growth.
However, the transportation plan has to be fiscally constrained and is currently stretched out for over the next 20 years to account for upcoming funding streams and changes.
“Early year projects have considerable funding and later years don’t have as much, which is why it’s important to get feedback from the community,” Cummings said. Years 2017-2021 show current projects underway that the RTC wants to finish, like the 4th Street and Prater Way project (www.4thprater.com).
A $16 million federal grant allowed the RTC to begin the 4th street and Prater where they are adding bike lanes, widening sidewalks, and burying power lines. “Right now the power poles on the sidewalks are creating an obstruction,” Cummings says.
RTC Public Information Officer Joe Harrington is most excited about the proposed improvements to the Pyramid Way and McCarren intersection. The RTC is looking at adding a paved multi-use path, new turning lanes, and decorative walls as part of the Pyramid Way project. As a resident of Sparks for over 10 years, Harrington says that there will be no question that the improvements will cut down on the travel time it takes him to get to work every day.
“Right now I sit through three cycles of that light; I’m hoping it will cut it down to one,” Harrington said.
After the meeting, the road project with the most stickers (aka the biggest priority for residents) is phase 2 of the Pyramid Highway/Sun Valley US-395 connector.
“Everyone recognizes that this area is growing economically and we need to plan for that. This is a very exciting process,” Cummings added.
To view the presentation from the Aug. 4 Regional Transportation Commission meeting, visit http://www.rtcwashoe.com/section-hot-topics.