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Options for South Carson Street discussed

Molly O'Brien of design consulting firm Kimley-Horn speaks Thurday evening at the Fuji Park Pavillion.
Brad Coman/Nevada Appeal |

Carson City transportation planners held an open house Thursday as the first step in gathering public comment on the future of South Carson Street.

About 50 people, including local business owners, residents and city staff, gathered at Fuji Park Exposition Hall to discuss their priorities for the road once the freeway bypass opens.

“Nothing is off the table yet, there is no fait accompli,” said Patrick Pittenger, Carson City transportation manager. “We’re looking for your input.”

When the bypass is complete, the portion of Carson Street street from Fairview Avenue to Highway 50 west will be transferred from the Nevada Department of Transportation to Carson City along with $5.1 million to start reconstruction of it by 2019.

Once the bypass opens, traffic on the road is expected to drop from its current 45,000 a day to about 25,000 cars daily, said Pittenger.

So a corridor study is now underway to determine what to do with the 2.5-mile stretch from 5th to Roland streets in preparation of redesigning it.

The street will likely be narrowed to five lanes, two lanes in either direction with a single turn lane in the middle.

And the city is committed to what is called complete streets: roads that are designed to accommodate motorists, public transit, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Molly O’Brien with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., the consultant conducting the corridor study, gave a brief overview of the complete streets concept then everyone was given clickers to answer a series of questions on what they thought were some of the most important aspects to include from it.

For cars, for example, 78 percent responded the priority was to provide access to businesses while the remainder said vehicle mobility.

Out of four options for roadway safety improvements, 40 percent chose intersection improvements.

And 63 percent said lighting for safety was a high priority.

About two-thirds found the road, as is, not suitable for biking and more than half said they would ride it more often if it had dedicated bike paths.

Bonnie Betts, owner, Dream Dinners at Clearview Drive and Carson Street, after the meeting, said she would bike to work if she felt safer on the road.

“I’d like to ride to and from work but I’m terrified of it,” Betts said.

As a business owner, her other main concern was better access to the parking lot of the small strip mall where Dream Dinners is located.

A few people with Muscle Powered, the group who promotes a walkable and bikeable city, attended.

“For Muscle Powered, we’re focused on biking and walking to improve quality of life,” said Kelly Clark, the group’s president. “Also, the data shows that when there are complete streets, collisions are reduced by a quarter.”

The corridor study will take six to eight months to complete and the city will hold another public meeting when in it’s in draft form, said Pittenger.

In the meantime, he said anyone can continue to comment on South Carson Street and its future design by contacting the city’s transportation division at 887-2355.