Transportation priorities to be examined

Because the Carson City freeway is nowhere near completion, the city's Regional Transportation Commission will begin its yearly prioritization project with a look at projects that will help ease the capital's traffic burdens.

"It is becoming abundantly clear the freeway is not on schedule," RTC Chairman Jon Plank said. "We need to do something that will supplant what the freeway would. We need to do some things for ourselves. They won't be throwaway projects; they will be projects that will benefit Carson after the freeway is built."

Every year, transportation commissioners set funding priorities, but in the last few years, commissioners have held off on any new major projects after completion of the $6.3 million Graves Lane extension.

"We're kind of catching our breath after Graves Lane," Plank said. "It was in excess of $6 million, which is a big bite to chew when your income is under $1 million."

This year, new projects such as an estimated $3.6 million expansion of Roop Street and a $400,000 extension of Lompa Lane on Boys & Girls Club property near Highway 50, appear to be rising to the top of the city's road priority list. Plank said the city's street department will continue to work on smaller projects while saving money for the next, large project, a $1.8 million extension of Curry Street from Lake Glen to Koontz Lane and a $320,000 extension of Stewart Street between Carson and Curry streets. However, by refinancing the debt from the Graves Lane bonds, the city may be able to pay for a combination of big-ticket projects in 2003, Plank said.

The Stewart Street extension is a crucial element of the Curry Street widening. Plans call for Curry to be expanded to allow two travel lanes and one turn lane, and the project is slated to be completed in 2004. The project is expected to open up development opportunities and create a needed western arterial to alleviate traffic on Carson Street.

Many projects prioritized last year, including intersection improvements at Carson Street and Clearview Drive and the Curry and Stewart streets project, are on this year's list. Transportation commissioners will review these and other projects today and make their final prioritization in February.

The RTC is funded by a 9-cent gas tax. Five cents is funneled directly to the Nevada Department of Transportation for the city's portion of the northern leg of the freeway--roughly at $1.67 million a year. City officials are considering asking the state for a new agreement that would free up some of that money for other local uses. About $60,000 a month is generated for the commission by the other four cents after salaries, supplies and a roughly $276,000 debt payment for Graves Lane is subtracted. Gas tax collection has been flat over the last few years, Plank said.

If you go:

What: Carson City Regional Transportation Commission meeting

When: 5:30 p.m., today

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


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