By Kayla Anderson
The Regional Transportation Commission invited Sparks industrial businesses and the public to attend a 2050 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) community meeting at Baldini’s Casino to discuss the future needs for roadways in the community on Thursday.
This was the soft kickoff to the Feb. 27 RTP Community Visioning Workshop and several more specific roundtables to follow between now and the fall to allow Reno/Sparks citizens many opportunities to give their input before the draft plan is finalized. The 2050 RTP is expected to be completed by May 2021.
The 2050 RTP is building upon the 2040 RTP that was approved in 2017, which addresses key issues such as mobility, connectivity, safety and traffic operations. Per federal regulations, a new plan is generally created every four years to forecast, recognize and adapt to the transportation changes and trends that the region is experiencing.
At the Feb. 26 meeting, three Sparks City Council members were in attendance and shared what they hoped to accomplish with the 2050 RTP.
“One of our biggest things is we hope to hear from the community what would they like to see as far as the bike lanes. Also, we’ve seen a lot of industrial change in the past few years and people are starting to use alternative modes of transportation, so we want to identify and adapt this plan to those needs,” says Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir.
“It’s exciting to look forward to 2050. I notice some congestion of people going from Sun Valley and up north down to Sparks and I’d like to see what could be done to help alleviate those traffic issues,” fellow Sparks City Council member Donald Abbott says.
“I want to know what we’re doing right and hear from local businesses on what they like and what could be improved upon,” Sparks City Councilman Paul Anderson adds.
RTC staff then shared a presentation which outlined the community outreach process for gathering data for the 2050 RTP, the other entities involved in the plan, and how they incorporate results from other studies that involve affordable house, mobility, and transportation needs in specific areas.
The RTP is constructed on four guiding principles, which include: 1) creating safe and healthy communities; 2) aiding economic development and diversification; 3) maintaining sustainability; and 4) increasing travel choices.
Some major Sparks projects that are currently in the 2040 RTP and are being worked on as funding becomes available include: widening Sparks Boulevard from Greg Street to Baring Boulevard to include more road lanes and multimodal improvements; adding sidewalks and bike lanes on Rock Boulevard; creating a Greg Street overlay from McCarran Boulevard to the railroad tracks; and various pavement preservation projects as well as bus stop improvements.
After the brief presentation, attendees were invited to look at various maps of the Sparks area and voice their concerns. Residents talked about how big trucks barreling along Rock Boulevard seem to hinder safety, how to best deal with flood mitigation in the industrial area, and issues with jaywalking and lack of sidewalks.
At the following day’s Community Visioning Workshop in Reno, RTC staff again shared the goals of the 2050 RTP with about 30 attendees present; those who couldn’t make it were able to watch it live streamed on Facebook.
The RTC encourages Sparks residents to look at the plans, attend one of the various workshops, and voice their needs or concerns on roadways related to issues such as safety, freight, bicycle/pedestrian needs, bus/park and ride locations, or anything else. This is your opportunity to let your voice be heard and help dictate the future of Sparks transportation and/or its roadway needs. The RTC wants as much feedback as possible and urges Reno/Sparks residents to take its interactive survey at RTP2050.metroquest.com.