A more than year-long project is underway to improve Prater Way/4th Street corridor linking Sparks and Reno. The eventual goal is a rapid transit bus line that will run all the way from Keystone Avenue in Reno to the Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks.
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) recently broke ground on the 4th Street/Prater Way Bus RAPID Transit Project. Around 70 people attended the RTC Open House on Jan. 26 to learn more about the project and view the plans/maps surrounding the construction.
The 4th Street/Prater Way study includes the corridor from Keystone Avenue (west) to the Northern Nevada Medical Center (running east) and the area between Reno’s Interstate 80 and the Truckee River with the area two blocks north of Prater Way to I-80 in Sparks.
The RTC launched the project to improve the corridor by creating wider sidewalks that are safer for pedestrians as well as add bike lanes and landscaping/lighting. The RTC will be burying utilities, improving the safety for disabled individuals by removing poles and barriers currently blocking their routes. The final phase of the 4th Street/Prater Way project will then be to construct a new RAPID bus line that can begin service in early 2019. Other elements of the project are expected to be completed early 2018.
The goals of adding the RAPID bus service are to connect downtown Sparks and Reno with four brand-new electric buses, improving economic development by giving everyone access to job opportunities and education through its transfer lines to University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College. In honor of the former Lincoln Highway that brought new energy to the corridor from 1913-1928, the new transit system will be named the RTC Lincoln Line.
“The top questions that were asked (at the Jan. 26 Open House) were about individual properties and how the project will unfold, specifically in the utilities being moved underground. Residents are curious about how they will be impacted,” said RTC Public Information Officer Joe Harrington. “There could be disruptions in water and gas, but people will be notified in advance when that occurs,” he adds.
Harrington said that the utility company and RTC will both notify people when they get to that point in the project and that they will attempt to complete some of that work at night when there is minimal utility use.
Some of the businesses on the 4th Street/Prater Way corridor also attended the Open House to assure residents that they will still be open for operation during the construction. Anyone can visit www.4thprater.com to learn more about the project and sign up to receive updates about construction. Those that sign up will be entered to win gift certificates and prizes to businesses in that corridor.
Although the project had a delayed start due to the weather, it is expected to finish on-time with most of the improvements made by early 2018.
“With the Pyramid and McCarran project, we couldn’t work because the road conditions were too soggy or had snow,” says Harrington. “However, we build those potential weather situations into the construction schedule so that we can keep the project on track,” he adds.
Harrington also said that the RTC will be shifting the traffic configuration to the north side on the Pyramid and McCarran project to resurface some of the lanes southbound on McCarran. Starting Jan. 31, that could cause additional delays and commuters should plan accordingly. “We need warm, dry conditions to strike the roadways, which it looks like we are getting this week,” says Harrington.
New this year, the RTC is also encouraging people to sign up for text updates to receive real-time construction information straight to their phones. To sign up for 4th and Prater notifications, text “4prater” to 797979 and you will receive messages when traffic control patterns are delayed and other construction activity. Keep in mind that the City of Reno is also doing a sewage construction on 4th Street that is separate from the 4th Street/Prater Way project.