RTC priorities set at next meeting | NevadaAppeal.com

RTC priorities set at next meeting

Amanda Hammon

Carson City residents spoke out Saturday on street projects they like and don’t like – the roundabout at Edmonds and Fifth Street, sound walls along College Parkway and Graves Lane, Ormsby Boulevard, bicycle and pedestrian issues.

Regional Transportation Commission members made no decisions on which projects would be funded or not in the coming year. Decisions on prioritizing the city’s long list of projects will begin at the commission’s Feb. 9 meeting.

“This was a lot of education,” Deputy City Manager Dan St. John said. “We looked at our master plan and set the groundwork for a five-year prioritization plan for Carson City.”

With an $11.5 million list of projects and only about $720,000 a year to spend, what the commission can do in the coming years will depend on some prudent planning.

After listening to four hours of discussion from a dozen residents, staff members said they would have a new priority list ready to go by Feb. 9.

“You are empowering us to bring you a proposal based on public testimony,” St. John said. “You are trusting us as professionals to list what we think are priorities and then spread the dollars accordingly. Getting to the first cut list will go pretty quickly, the hard part is what you’ll set as priorities”

The meeting rambled from topic to topic, generating ideas for future projects and priorities. Some items discussed included:

— Commissioners questioned whether they would have to put funding for Clear Creek Road ahead of other projects as Costco comes on line. City Manager John Berkich said detailed negotiations with Costco begin Monday and the discussion would include who pays for the road’s upgrade.

— Putting sound walls on College Parkway between Imperial Way and Northgate Lane brought resident Louise Roberts to the meeting. She noted that the sound walls were supposed to be up in 1999.

“A commitment was made to this in 1995,” Roberts said. “I’ve watched College Parkway turn into your Graves Lane. It’s still loud, and we’re still waiting for our sound wall. How many more meetings do I have to go to?”

St. John said the sound walls were a funded priority, but obtaining one piece of property for right-of-way was holding up the project up. As soon as that matter is settled, the $306,000 walls would be built, he said.

Residents of the River Knolls Safety Committee won a battle in November to have sound walls along their Graves Lane neighborhood added to the city’s priority list. Residents told commissioners that many priority projects, plus the addition of Costco and Lowe’s in south Carson, would continue to increase traffic in the area.

Commissioner Marv Teixeira said the group should focus on meeting its commitments so residents wouldn’t have to wonder when promised projects would be completed.

— Residents told commissioners the extension of Ormsby Boulevard in west Carson City should be pulled from the priority list. Resident Laura Work said the project didn’t make financial sense for Carson City.

“If there were no other way to get from A to B, that would be one thing,” Work said. “But you can get from Silver Oaks to Washington Street. The priorities should change Ormsby Boulevard from being a high priority to a low one.”

Projects on the priority list now include a $1.7 million extension of Curry Street and a $1.1 million connector road from Arrowhead Drive to Graves Lane.

— Resident Mike Derlashon said he goes through the roundabout at Edmonds Drive and Fifth Street about 66 times a week. Most drivers, he said, don’t follow the rules.

“When I see sheriff’s deputies and Nevada Highway Patrol officers not following the rules, I’m bothered.”

The city plans to put the roundabout project to bid in about two weeks, St. John said. The roundabout was built in April 1999 as a Nevada Department of Transportation experiment and has its share of supporters and proponents.

Commissioners argued over whether or not to landscape the roundabout, and asked development service staff to see how much irrigation would cost. Commission Chairman Jon Plank asked that the costs of landscaping the roundabout be added to the bid as an alternate cost. The roundabout is estimated to cost around $60,000.

— Pedestrian activist and Carson City resident Sue Newberry encouraged commissioners to consider creating traffic-calming programs which could save the city money. Sometimes something as simple as lights and restriping a road can calm traffic, saving construction dollars and making the community more walkable, she said.