Ten years and hundreds of frustrations after launching a near-hopeless crusade to build a bypass in Carson City, former Mayor Marv Teixeira relished the news Wednesday that Gov. Kenny Guinn would find a way to build the bypass with a bike path.
"Here comes the governor and says let's see how we can make this work. When he said, 'I'm in charge,' I couldn't be more pleased," said Teixeira, Carson City's outspoken and dynamic mayor from 1989 to 1996.
Before Tuesday many thought Carson City's bypass bike path dream would become a left-turn lane in Las Vegas. Nevada Department of Transportation officials for months have said funding for the $3.4 million bike path would have to be taken from a Las Vegas project.
But the state transportation board, chaired by Guinn, shelved NDOT's either/or tactics. The board oversees NDOT.
Teixeira heartily approved of Guinn's pledge to sit down with Mayor Ray Masayko and find ways to cut costs in the $136 million bypass project to find money for a bike path within the bypass right-of-way.
"I've very surprised and very pleased," Teixeira said. "I admire Gov. Guinn stepping up to the plate. I'm really impressed that a governor has taken his time to roll up his sleeves for this community."
Without Teixeira's dogged determination while mayor, the bypass could still be the long-range plan it had been for decades on NDOT's priority list.
"At that time (1989), we were in long-range planning and that's where we were going to stay. There was no appetite to fund it. When I asked them when would it be built, they said: Never."
Teixeira figures he sat in on a good 25 of the 32 state transportation board meetings during his mayoral run, each time hammering the board with renewed pleas to build a Carson City bypass.
"There was a joke that I had a better attendance record than some of the directors," Teixeira said.
Teixeira and the Carson City Board of Supervisors weighed options throughout the first half of the 1990s to relieve traffic. Teixeira said a 1990 survey of residents revealed that traffic was the No. 1 problem - "It wasn't water, growth or crime."
Supervisors weighed imposing a 5-cent optional gasoline tax and bonding against it to build at least a partial bypass as a city project. They also considered converting Roop and Stewart streets into opposing one-way streets.
"Somewhere around the end of 1995, I saw if we're ever going to get a bypass, we have to give the state the nickel (the 5-cent gas tax)," Teixeira said.
A July 1996 public forum gave supervisors a clear message that residents wanted a bypass, not some Band Aid solution. Supervisors then committed to devoting all the money from a 5-cent gasoline tax to bypass construction for 15 years.
Teixeira took this offer to the state transportation board in September 1996 and, with only three months left in his eight years as mayor, Teixeira got a commitment from the state to build a bypass. The 5-cent tax was imposed in 1997.
Teixeira stayed away from Tuesday's transportation board meeting.
"I didn't go as an ex-mayor," he said. "I've been there, done that. I'm not in charge any more."
Since stepping down as mayor, Teixeira maintained a fairly low profile regarding the bypass - until he joined the city's Regional Transportation Commission a few months ago. At an April 5 joint meeting with the city's Parks and Recreation Commission, Teixeira broke his post-mayoral vow of silence to convince both boards to send a message that the state should pay for the bike path rather than the city.
Teixeira's passionate address turned both commissions away from a city proposal to commit $50,000 a year for 17 years from RTC reserve funds and Question 18 Quality of Life funds to pay for the bike path.
"I was concerned they would mortgage themselves for 17 years not knowing what they're getting into," said Teixeira, adding that the RTC's share would have committed half of the commission's reserve fund for nearly two decades to the bypass bike path.
"We have barely enough revenue to operate marginally at this time."