The purpose of the meeting was for the RTC to gather input and answer questions about options being considered for transportation improvement.
“The RTC is studying long-term transportation improvements along the Pyramid Highway corridor from Queen Way to Calle de la Plata, and improving east/west connections from the Sparks urban core to U.S. 395,” an invitation to the Sun Valley workshop stated. “The study team is screening alternative solutions and would like to share these … and obtain feedback.”
RTC executive director Lee Gibson told Sun Valley residents Wednesday that the organization wants community input and will take suggestions and concerns into consideration when developing more solid plans for transportation projects.
“Right now we are developing and evaluating alternatives,” Tom Greco, senior transportation engineer for RTC, said during the workshop. “We are talking about where we have been, where we are and where we are going. We are sharing information about the current situation on the roads and what we expect (the situation) will be in 2030.”
Several alternatives for a Pyramid Way/U.S. 395 connection are being considered at this time. Conceptual freeway alignments are being evaluated which would run through the south end of Sun Valley and would require acquisition of homes and property.
Ideally, the connector would alleviate traffic congestion on North McCarran Boulevard from Pyramid Way to U.S. 395, which currently is the main route taken by Sparks and Spanish Springs residents to and from U.S. 395.
A project currently is in the works to expand Pyramid and McCarran to accommodate more traffic, but RTC consultants do not believe it will fix the problem in the long term.
Greco said 34,000 cars per day travel Pyramid Way near Los Altos Parkway, but that number is expected to reach 100,000 by 2013. That projection is made based on land use and population growth rates as reported by Reno, Sparks and Washoe County.
“We fold that into a traffic model and that’s how we get the future numbers,” Greco said.
The goal of RTC’s current study, Greco said, is to recognize regional transit needs.
“Every motorist in every neighborhood has a need to go somewhere,” he said. “In the study, we have found there needs to be an east-west link between Sparks and 395. Right now, the only street that accommodates that is North McCarran.”
“This project is in the early stages,” Gibson said. “We want to work with (the public) and we are here to listen.”
County Commissioner Kitty Jung reminded Sun Valley residents the project is not a “done deal,” but a need for a new road has been established.
“Your engagement and participation will make this process much easier,” she told Sun Valley residents. “We will continue having these meetings and will be open and transparent.”
Project manager Doug Maloy told residents the RTC has been looking at this project for three years with the goal of relieving traffic congestion and providing Sparks residents with a way to get to U.S. 395.
Early in the process, a connector that would have run to the north of Sun Valley was considered, and many residents during Wednesday’s meeting wondered why that option had been dropped.
“I want to see (the connector) brought further to the south or to come around Sun Valley to the north through the regional park,” resident Garth Elliott said. “Then it wouldn’t disrupt any homes.”
“They could start the road out by Spanish Springs High School and run it north of here,” resident Ike Berry said. “Then it wouldn’t affect the community the way it does.”
Berry said he believes most Sun Valley residents chose to live there because it is secluded from the city, and he fears a freeway running through the valley would change all that.
“Very few people live out here because they don’t want to be here,” Berry said.
RTC’s Jeff Hale said the reason the connector north of Sun Valley was dropped is that not enough people would utilize the road if it was that far north.
“If we did that, nobody would take it,” Hale said. “It would be too far out of the way.”
But that’s not to say it is absolutely out of the question.
“This process is set up to weigh all these options,” said Christopher Young, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) coordinator for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
About 100 Sun Valley residents attended the workshop, and except for a few who were adamantly against the project, most were just curious about the project and wanted to know how it would affect them.
An elderly man who said he lives on First Street and could be asked to give up his home said he isn’t real concerned because he thinks the project will take a very long time.
“All I can do is have fun with it,” he said.
David Dodson of the RTC said some residents were concerned with noise.
“There could be a wall,” Dodson said. “A noise analysis will be done along with the study.”
More public meetings will be held in the future as the project moves forward, Maloy said. To submit comments or request information about the study, contact Maloy at 335-1865 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the study is available online at www.rtcwashoe.com, click on “Hot Topics.”