After months of trying to decide between expanding Roop Street or extending Stewart Street, Carson City transportation officials may end up just where they started five months ago: wanting to improve Curry Street. Or at least part of it.
Supervisor Jon Plank, chairman of the Regional Transportation Commission, said Monday recent development of property on South Curry Street make improvements to Curry Street a necessity.
City Manager John Berkich said the area continues to draw the interest of "specific, interested retailers" and while no details have been worked out, he said discussions are ongoing over what could be done to the street to draw those developers to town.
"One of the things we need to consider is the prospect of attracting commercial development to South Curry Street," Plank said. "We need to take another look at the situation. We need to do everything to make it as attractive as possible."
Transportation commissioners for two years put an expansion of Curry Street to three lanes at the top of their priority list.
This year, however, transportation staff recommended expanding to four lanes Roop Street from Fifth Street to Winnie Lane, a project estimated at $3.7 million.
The proposal was met with opposition from some Roop Street residents who could lose parts of their yards to the construction, and Supervisor Richard Staub, also a transportation commissioner, is pushing for a $4.4 million, 3,350-foot extension of Stewart Street.
The Curry Street work fell to third on the city's transportation construction priority list .
A decision on the Roop/Stewart expansion was postponed in June as commissioners voted 2-2 for either project with Commissioner Steve Reynolds abstaining, saying he needed a month to think about the project.
Reynolds said Monday he thinks the commission will come to a decision when it meets Wednesday to discuss the projects.
Nnow may be the time to expand Stewart Street, Reynolds said, but "I believe Roop Street will be four lanes in the future no matter what we might or might not do to Stewart."
But Plank said with Curry Street "back in the equation," he plans to push for an expansion of Roop from Washington Street north to Winnie Lane and, with left over money, improving Curry from Koontz Lane to Clearview Drive.
"We get two projects for the price of one, and I think they're critical projects, too," Plank said. "We're short on money and short on time. Stewart, I don't think, will ever be needed. Maybe we wished we would have (expanded Stewart) 25 years from now, but it's a waste of money and we need the money elsewhere in the community right now rather than guessing what we'll need in 25 years."
Staub, however, isn't convinced. He said will continue to press for the Stewart Street expansion, saying the city will lose a golden opportunity by ignoring the opportunity to buy a church in the road's potential path.
"I think we're losing an opportunity for the efficient use of that street as a north-south arterial," Staub said. "Add to that the fact a substantial number of property owners will be adversely affected by widening (Roop) Street to four lanes, and it makes even more sense to look at Stewart."
Staub supports improvements to Curry Street, but said he wants to see letters of intent from developers, whom both Staub and Plank declined to identify.
"If the city's going to make a commitment to do something, the players on the other side of the equation should be willing to sign on the dotted line," he said.
With four to five months of delay to a Roop or Stewart construction schedule, Transportation Manager John Flansberg said neither of the projects likely will be started until 2004. Flansberg's department has spent about $50,000 in studies on the Roop/Stewart projects and the staff has consistently supported the Roop Street expansion.
"It's not an engineering decision anymore; it's a political decision," Flansberg said. "I'm as much waiting for a decision as anybody."
IF YOU GO
What: Carson City Regional Transportation Commission
When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Carson City Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.