RTC Project Managers Marchon Miller and Howard Riedl focus on many of the improvement projects happening in Sparks and were able to dissect the ins-and-outs of the developing designs Tuesday.
Nichols Boulevard Bike and Pedestrian Project
The RTC assessed the need for better access to its transit system stops and the debilitated state of the sidewalks on Nichols Boulevard from Victorian Avenue to Howard Drive. Miller said the project will use only existing space in creating a new cycle track on the road that will link downtown Sparks to the Sparks Marina and Legends.
“Nichols (Boulevard) is an extremely wide road and there is a lot of room, actually, so we will be able to put in the cycle track and a planter area with decorative lighting that will kind of match the theme already on Victorian (Avenue),” Miller said.
The project is estimated to cost $1.3 million and is being paid for by the RTC fuel tax. Construction began on Nichols Boulevard on July 5. The cycle track’s concrete has already been poured and, according to Miller, the project is moving smoothly and is expected to be done around Oct. 4.
Miller said the plans for the cycle track were widely popular among City of Sparks officials, who said continuing the already improved bicycle transit in Sparks to include downtown would only increase the amount of people visiting Victorian Square. The project is already gaining some local support from nearby businesses as well.
“I think what we are trying to do is push whatever people we can from the marina to go all the way downtown,” she said. “We also want to make (Victorian Avenue) more friendly for any visitors and help push them out to the marina. We have a lot of timeshares in that section and they have been totally on board, and they have asked to help do some of the landscaping. They are planning to offer bike rentals to push people to the mall and to the marina. We hope people will take advantage of the parking at Legends and use our improved sidewalks and new cycle track.”
Victorian Avenue “complete street” project
The “complete street” has been a focus of the RTC for several years and operates on the notion that streets are not only used by motor vehicles. According to Riedl, Victorian Avenue is now a prime example of a street that offers public transit, pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle options to residents and visitors.
“With complete streets we can offer increased safety and we are able to create more space, increase mobility choices and overall it offers more livability benefits,” Riedl said.
“It is important to our transit system that our passengers have safe and convenient access to our systems. And, of course, it is a federal law that we must provide ADA access on our sidewalks.”
Riedl said that Nichols Boulevard, Victorian Avenue and Vista Boulevard are examples of “existing roadways,” which have more room on them than needed for vehicles and are roads the RTC can add more options on.
Greenbrae Drive Pavement Repair Project
The area on Greenbrae Drive between El Rancho Drive and Rock Boulevard began undergoing construction on Sept. 4 to repair the frequently used roadway. Riedl said that area of Greenbrae Drive is home to one of the RTC’s public transit routes.
“Our buses are very heavy and Greenbrae (Drive) is basically a neighborhood street. Our buses really have just taken a toll on that road,” he said. “We still have a ways to go over there but we hope to be done by Thanksgiving before the weather begins to turn too cold.”
The project will also repair about a block of Merchant Street beginning at Sullivan Lane and heading east about 500 feet. The project is estimated to cost $1.7 million and is funded by the RTC fuel tax.
Vista Boulevard Sound Wall Project
Sound walls have been put on the east side of Vista Boulevard from N. Los Altos Parkway to Wingfield Hills Parkway. Construction of the sound walls is complete and the final stages of the project are now in place, according to Miller.
“The graffiti coating was added last week and the hydroseeding will be done when the weather begins to cool a little bit,” she said, adding that crews have been replacing many lost trees in the area of the construction and will continue to repopulate and improve the area’s landscape as long as the weather permits.
The RTC approved a $2 million budget and construction costs are estimated at a little more than $1 million.
4th Street/Prater Way Corridor Project
A $27 million project to improve sidewalks, bike lanes and overall road conditions along 4th Street and Prater Way has been approved by the RTC. The managing department was denied grant funding after a competitive battle, but remains optimistic that the work will get done.
“We are always looking to do bits and pieces of that project. When we have pavement improvements that come up we can look at the plans for that corridor and try our best to work toward those goals,” Riedl said. “We will continue to do what we can with our local funds.”
The RTC is in the process of updating its Regional Transportation Plan and will be finalizing the work of citizen and agent groups. The next planned community workshop will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Washoe County Senior Center on 9th Street in Reno.
The RTC will be previewing preliminary results for the plan and the projects involved and will be seeking the input of the community.
For more information on RTC projects, visit www.rtcwashoe.com.