A plan originally proposed in 1996 to create a one-way couplet on Roop and Stewart streets to relieve Roop traffic was resurrected Wednesday at the Regional Transportation Commission meeting.
The plan, originally shelved to focus dollars and energy on the freeway bypass, would restrict Roop to northbound traffic and Stewart to southbound traffic.
Increasingly, Roop has become an alternative route through town to avoid slow traffic on Carson Street. As heavy traffic winds through the mostly residential area, it also has become a cumbersome route for drivers as well as a madhouse for residents.
The commission has been considering widening Roop at the expense of residents' front yards to create a major five-lane road.
Transportation staff consider diverting part of the traffic burden to Stewart Street an alternative plan worth reconsideration.
"We have a street, Stewart Street, that is very underutilized," said John Flansberg, Carson City street operations manager. "It's wide; traffic is low from what it could serve."
Constructed on the V&T Railroad right-of-way, Stewart Street is mostly used by office employees working in the area.
It's light on traffic, Flansberg explained, because "it doesn't go anywhere."
Stewart, with a southern outlet that begins in a broad curve from Carson Street at Gottschalk, comes to an abrupt end a block north of William Street at East John Street.
To connect with Roop on the north, the city would have to create a new road. The proposed road extension would cut northeast across East John, Johnson and Corbett streets to connect with Moody Street. Moody runs into Roop on the north end of town.
"John Street and Moody are the impacted area in this scenario, but a lot less so than (widening Roop)," said board member and supervisor Richard Staub, who estimated the project could cost half that of widening Roop.
A second couplet alternative would leave Roop alone and make Carson Street one way southbound and Stewart Street one way northbound. That proposal met with less enthusiasm from board members.
"Politically, we're not going to have one-way traffic on Carson," Staub said, suggesting that staff not spend time investigating that option.
The board as a whole preferred both alternatives be studied as well as widening Roop, but, on face value, considered the Roop/Stewart couplet the best option.
The handful of Roop Street residents at the meeting to express concerns about the proposal to widen the street, also liked the idea of diverting one direction of traffic to Stewart Street.
Evelyn Westsmith now rents out the house on North Roop Street where she lived with her late husband for 15 years. She wanted to ensure homeowners were compensated, perhaps with a change to commercial zoning, if their front yards were cut short.
"People want to be in their yards. They want to be outside. They're not going to have that," she said, concerned about the loss of rental value as well as the loss of lifestyle for those living on Roop.
"I'm in favor of the one way," she added.
Other observers reminded the board to consider safety issues and bike paths no matter what option was selected.
For now, updated research is needed.
The board gave the commission staff 60 days to scrutinize the one-way couplet proposals in terms of cost, timing, the impact on residents and whether the projects would create traffic problems where the one-way streets end.
"We need to look at getting quantifiable numbers we can look at," board member Steve Reynolds said. "If we do nothing, traffic on Roop is going to keep getting slower and heavier."
In other action, the commissioners approved diverting funds from projects put on hold to reconstruct South Edmund Street, which has been heavily patched due to sewer projects.
Because of road reconstruction projects already planned, the cost of adding Edmund to the list would be much less than if done at another time, Flansberg said.
Discussion on prioritizing transportation projects was postponed until the results of the couplet study were ready for review.
The next meeting of the Regional Transportation Commission is tentatively scheduled for March 13 at 5:30 p.m.
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