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RTC continues to seek input on Pyramid/McCarran project
by Jessica Carner
Apr 23, 2011 | 1993 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Scott Gibson, project manager for the Pyramid/McCarran widening project, shows Sparks residents conceptual maps related to the project.
SPARKS — A group of Immaculate Conception Church members turned out to a public meeting hosted by the Regional Transportation Commission earlier this week to voice opposition to proposed changes to the roadways near their place of worship.

The RTC on Wednesday held yet another in a series of many public meetings at John Ascuaga’s Nugget to discuss proposed changes to several roads in the area of the intersection of Pyramid Way and McCarran Boulevard. In spite of efforts by RTC engineers and planners to accommodate the church, some parishioners and the church pastor still are uneasy about the changes.

“I don’t see all of this changing to accommodate the traffic,” parishioner Pat Brewer said. “It’s disrupting our house of worship.”

The RTC and the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) for several months have been fine-tuning an “emerging preferred alternative” for a road widening project at the intersection of Pyramid Way and McCarran Boulevard and have involved church members and area residents in the decision-making process.

For the past five years, RTC and NDOT have been studying the intersection to determine a way to meet an ever-increasing traffic demand by widening the roads. RTC studies revealed that Pyramid north is at 113 percent of its capacity, McCarran is at 94 percent, and those numbers are expected to increase as the population in the Spanish Springs area continues to grow.

In order to widen the roads, residential, and possibly commercial, property acquisitions will have to take place and it was recently determined that RTC and NDOT will acquire properties to the east of Pyramid in order to widen the road, but will not take any land from Immaculate Conception Church to complete the widening project on McCarran.

The RTC at one time toyed with the notion of trying to acquire church property, but decided against the idea after church and community members voiced their opposition.

“This does not impact the church any longer,” said Ron Smith, Sparks city councilman and chairman of the RTC board of trustees. “We’ve moved (the alignment) to the south and we have moved it to the east.”

Smith said the process of gathering input has helped the RTC to develop the project to the current stage.

“I think it is a great project,” Smith said, adding the RTC has to worry about everyone involved when making decisions about the roadways, not just the church.

King said he is worried certain proposed changes to the intersection of Queen Way and Pyramid will create difficulty for parishioners trying to access the church from the northeast. He also is concerned that a proposed dedicated right turn lane from north Pyramid to west McCarran will allow drivers to come around the corner at a high rate of speed.

“I worry about potential accidents,” Father Norman King said. “I’m worried about the viability of the church being compromised.

“It does not provide sufficient access,” King said, as he referred to changes to Queen Way that were unveiled at Wednesday’s meeting.

RTC Director of Engineering Jeff Hale said two alternatives for the Queen Way intersection are being presented for public input, a cul de sac alternative and a “right in, right out” alternative.

The cul de sac alternative would block Queen Way, he said.

“The issue with this is Queen Way is very well-used,” Scott Gibson, project manager, said.

The right in, right out alternative would provide a right turn only lane onto Queen Way, and a right turn only lane to exit Queen onto Pyramid.

“This would relieve cut through traffic on Queen Way,” Gibson said.

Although a large number of those in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting seemed to be opposed to the road widening project, RTC spokeswoman Angela White said she thinks drop-off in attendance at the meetings is a good sign that people are beginning to agree with the direction the project is going.

White estimated there were about 50 or 60 attendees at the meeting Wednesday, and said there were more than 400 at the first meeting.
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