City stepping towards larger traffic planning process

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Carson City supervisors will also be asked Thursday to designate the Carson City Regional Transportation Commission as the community's metropolitan planning organization.

MPO status is given to cities with a population over 50,000, and it is a designation that will affect traffic issues in the city.

The city receives much of its federal funding for transit and highways from the state with the other rural counties. While it will require extensive, long-term planning, MPO status will bring the opportunity to pour more federal dollars into Carson's roads, although no one is sure just how much money will come to the capital.

Carson City would move from competing with rural Nevada for traffic funds to competing with the state's three other MPOs-Washoe and Clark counties and Lake Tahoe, which while not over 50,000 population received the designation from Congress in 1998.

The city's step to MPO status will bring with it more federal regulation. The city would be required to complete a very thorough 20-year transportation plan, and every three years will have to provide an updated transportation improvement plan to the state for approval. Plans can't merely be a wish list; the city will also have to show how the projects will be paid for.

Supervisor Jon Plank, also chairman of the transportation commission, said supervisors can choose to designate themselves as the MPO authority, which would handle planning and funding decisions of the authority. However, Plank said RTC members unanimously voted to designate themselves as the MPO.

"We're just starting to feel our way on this MPO business," Plank said. "The supervisors pretty much have their hands full. The board of supervisors is also the liquor and entertainment board, the redevelopment authority. Does it also want to be the MPO, too?"

The city has more planning to do before the census makes the 50,000 population number official.

Supervisors will also set the boundaries for the MPO. The boundary and authority designation will have to be approved by the governor.


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