Get rolling on both the bypass and the path

Carson City shouldn't have to beg, borrow and steal to get its bypass and bike path through town. We've waited years and paid at the gas pumps during a time when payment at gas pumps often requires a bank loan.

Now it's time for the state Transportation Board to do the right thing and pay the $3.5 million for the multi-use path slated to go along the bypass so we can get on with the job of building a better community.

The sticking point seems to be NDOT's reluctance to fund the path, suggesting that it is in the business of building roadways, not paths.

Never mind that the federal government has established the development of livable communities as a top priority for the 21st Century.

"Livable communities encourage development patterns that give people safe, accessible and convenient transportation choices," wrote John Price, division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration. "Those choices are, by definition, friendly to bicycling."

In fact, bicycle and pedestrian paths are mandated by law. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) requires that, "Bicyclists and pedestrians shall be given due consideration in the comprehensive transportation plans developed by each metropolitan planning organization and state. Bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways shall be considered, where appropriate, in conjunction with all new construction and reconstruction of transportation facilities."

As to the "where appropriate" part, there's no question it would be appropriate here. I was sitting with former mayor Marv Teixeira last week at a luncheon and he kind of led me along the proposed path from north to south.

Starting at the north end of the bypass and bike path we'd have 1,200 homes in Silver Oak, with access from Arrowhead and College Parkway.

Then we'd come to Airport and Hot Springs, where the city's second-largest apartment complex is under construction.

Next comes College Parkway, home to the city's second-largest office complex.

Further south we'd hit the Northridge subdivision, with 500 homes already complete.

The path would then come across the soon-to-be-built Boys & Girls Club facility, home to more than 1,200 kids who could sure use a safe way to get to and from the club. Also in that area will be the new St. Teresa's church and Mark Twain School.

Then it's on to Mills Park, Carson High School and Centennial Park, connecting to one of the largest apartment complexes in the Menlo area.

Next stop is Governors Field, Fremont School, Eagle Valley Middle School, Edmonds Field and a few subdivisions, before finally making its way to the Fuji Park area.

So there's the "appropriate" part. Is it "appropriate" to ensure our children have a safer way to get to school and back? Is it "appropriate" for our children to have a safer way to get to the Boys & Girls Club and back? Is it "appropriate" for our children to have a safer way to get to the ballparks and back?

I think so.

I also think it's appropriate for Carson City to "reinvent itself," which progressive communities looking to offer a better quality of life tend to do. And a progressive community probably includes one that is bikeable and walkable.

There is a strong argument that more roads generate more traffic. If that's true, NDOT is only in the business of generating traffic. At least according to its own notion that it has nothing to do with bike paths.

In his summary, Price emphasized the federal highway administration's "strong commitment" to improving conditions for bicycling and walking. "We should not treat the two modes as an afterthought or luxury," he wrote. "The forgotten modes should become a serious part of our national transportation system."

When it meets next month to decide if Carson City's bypass will also include funding for a path, the state transportation board pretty much has three choices. It can vote to fund all $3.5 million or so. It can vote to fund a portion of the path, which means the city will need to fund the balance, or it can vote to pull it from the plan.

I hope its vote is a positive one for better communities and that it sends a message that here in Nevada, transportation extends beyond roadways and highways.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher and editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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