RTC has big plans for Washoe County streets
The Regional Transportation Commission has big plans for remodeling streets in Washoe County.
On Friday, RTC adopted the Complete Streets Master Plan. This plan aims at turning streets into “complete streets” in order to enable safe access to all members of the community. According to RTC, changes are determined by community outreach and are specifically designed to fit the needs of users.
Complete Streets may include new bike lanes, sidewalks, bus turnouts, bus lanes, traffic signals and the widening or narrowing of traffic lanes.
Last October, RTC held a community workshop to develop the Complete Streets Master Plan. Members of the community submitted recommendations for changes to many streets. Almost all of the proposed changes included adding bike lanes.
“We have the studies on hand and have an idea of what the community wants out there,” said Joe Harrington, RTC’s public information officer.
Four upcoming Complete Streets projects
4th Street/Prater Way
What: A new bus transit route called the RTC Lincoln Line. This route will be the first all-electric bus transit route in the country. The modifications on 4th Street/Prater Way will also involve underground utility lines, planting trees, additional access under the Americans with Disabilities Act, widening sidewalks and adding bike lanes.
Where: From Evans Avenue to Pyramid Way.
Expected completion: Modifications are expected to be completed by 2018. However, the RTC Lincoln Line is expected to be completed in 2019.
Cost: Approximately $50 million.
Virginia Street Corridor
What: Sections of Virginia Street will receive significant additions. This includes an extension of the RAPID bus transit service from Midtown to the University of Nevada, Reno. It also includes pedestrian enhancements in Midtown. This is possible because the new Virginia Street Bridge can hold the weight of a bus, while the old bridge could not (the new bridge opened earlier this year). RTC will also look to add two new buses for this expanded service. “It’ll really cut down on time and it’ll be easy to use,” said Harrington. “It’ll really be able to link the downtown, Midtown and university areas.”
Where: From Midtown to the University of Nevada, Reno.
Expected completion: Construction will begin in early 2018 and is expected to be completed in early 2019.
Cost: Approximately $53 million.
The Southeast Connector
What: A new 5.5-mile road with seven bridges, two signalized intersections and a multi-use path for bicycle and pedestrian access. The first phase of the project was completed in July 2014 and included the construction of two bridges. Construction for the second phase began in June 2015 and is in progress. This phase includes building five new bridges and a new roadway from Clean Water Way to the Veterans Parkway/South Meadows Parkway intersection. The entire Southeast Connector will be named Veterans Parkway.
Where: Veterans Parkway, from South Meadows Parkway to Greg Street.
Expected completion: Late 2017.
Cost: $290 million.
These are the Complete Street projects that are closest to being finished. However, the list for proposed changes throughout Washoe County is significantly longer. According to Harrington, there isn’t enough funding for the some of the other projects to be completed.
The Complete Street concept isn’t new to Washoe Country, though. RTC has been planning and implementing changes for complete streets since 2008. Some of these included the widening of sidewalks, adding crosswalks, adding raised medians and creating spaces for pedestrians and bicyclists. These streets include Wells Avenue, Arlington Avenue and Mill Street, among others.
“Complete Streets improve safety by reducing crashes through safety improvements,” according to Smart Growth America.
RTC released information on the safety benefits of complete streets in Washoe County. According to its data, there has been a 31 percent to 46 percent reduction in crashes on the Washoe County Complete Streets.
You can read the entire Complete Streets Master Plan here.