Carson must add neighbors to planning group

Carson City will soon take over its highway planning destiny for federally funded road projects -- with some unexpected help from Douglas and Lyon county officials and a continued hearty dose of state guidance.

Besides having a say in large transportation projects, the Carson urban area will also be eligible for an estimated $500,000 to improve area transit services.

With official certification from the 2000 Census as an urban area, Carson City left its rural roots and became eligible for a host of federal programs. Carson City officials started preparing in 1999 to take over from the Nevada Department of Transportation the job of setting priorities for federal funds.

That would be the Carson City freeway -- essentially the only federally funded project in the area at the moment, said Leif Anderson, NDOT northern program development manager.

Carson City supervisors in 1999 expanded the city's Regional Transportation Commission to five members. The Census, though, included a sliver of Lyon County in Mound House and a chunk of northern Douglas County in the city's urban designation. That means any large road planning for Carson now has to include representatives from those two counties.

Carson City officials will ask city transportation commissioners Wednesday and supervisors Thursday to add members from NDOT and Douglas and Lyon counties to the five-member panel. Commissioners and supervisors will also be asked to designate a five- to nine-member group from Carson, Douglas and maybe Lyon.

An NDOT official is required to sit on the board, called a metropolitan planning organization, and the majority of members will come from Carson City. The board's makeup will have to be approved by the governor.

Much of the planning will remain the same as it has under the state's watch, said Andy Burnham, city development services director. Carson's Regional Tranporation Commission will still be responsible for planning and building city road projects.

The new status will make available $500,000 to expand bus service in Carson City and part of Douglas County. The money can be used to expand transit systems with everything from buses and drivers to gas and insurance, said Sandi Stanio, state transit coordinator. As a rural county, Carson received $50,000 for transit services.

Lyon County officials haven't responded to Carson City officials' invitation to be a planning partner. Since a significant portion of Douglas County from the county line south to Johnson Lane is included in the urban area, Community Development Director Bob Nunes said the county "may as well join in and play."

"To say it's good or bad is difficult," he said. "It's another layer of government ... another set of meetings, another set of rules."

On the upside, he said Douglas County could benefit from some of the potential planning and transit dollars -- around $70,000 -- expected to come with the new designation, but might lose its $50,000 in rural transit money. Stanio said ultimately Douglas County should see some extra funds in the deal because it will receive both the rural money and a portion of the urban area funds.


What: Carson City Regional Transportation Commission

When: 5:30 p.m., Wednesday

Where: the Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.


What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 8:30 a.m., Thursday

Where: the Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.


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