Time for NDOT to step up

"It's the right thing for NDOT to do," said Marv Teixeira.

The message Wednesday evening from Carson City residents to the Nevada Department of Transportation seems pretty clear.

"I urge you to stand firm and require NDOT to implement the plans that have been made and supported by this community," said Sue Newberry.

"The T in NDOT doesn't stand for automobiles only," said Ken Elverum.

At issue is the much-discussed path that walkers and bicyclists want built along the route of the highway bypass through Carson City. (To clear up some of the questions about it: The path would not be on the highway. It would generally follow the same course, but be located below the freeway grade, which is some 30 feet high in many places.)

The question remains who will pay for the path, now estimated to cost $3.3 million. Many in Carson City believe it should be NDOT's responsibility, as evidenced by the comments made Wednesday evening.

Frankly, we have to scoff at worries among some NDOT officials that it would be precendent-setting for the state agency to pay for bike and walking paths, when it is accustomed to paying only for vehicular lanes of travel.

First, it's high time NDOT did set a precedent in living up to its responsibility - mandated by the federal government - to provide for these forms of transportation. So far there has been no legitimate reason given whatsoever for not building a biking-hiking trail in conjuction with the bypass.

Funding? We hasten to point out that Carson City is already providing $20 million toward construction of the highway - six times the amount of a biking-hiking path.

If anyone wants to worry about setting precedent, it is Carson City taxpayers who should be pointing out that they are stepping up to provide a significant contribution to a highway that should be NDOT's responsibility.

It was even suggested that to build a biking-hiking trail through Nevada's capital might mean NDOT would have to forego a left-turn lane in Las Vegas. Does anyone expect us to get down on our hands and knees and weep that Las Vegas might have to do without a left-turn lane?

Standing up to NDOT on this issue carries some risk for Carson City. We've already heard the threats that the second phase of the bypass might just have to be delayed if we keep insisting on this bike path. It's a political game in many respects, and curiously the Carson City Chamber of Commerce has come down on the side of NDOT on this one.

But we have to respect the opinions of the Regional Transportation and Parks and Recreation commissions and issue the same challenge that former mayor Teixeira did.

NDOT needs to step up on this one.


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