Carson City RACC OKs downtown design at 30% percent

A design nearly a third done outlining downtown traffic and street life changes won endorsement from Carson City’s Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee (RACC) Monday night.

The RACC is one of two citizens’ panels serving as a forum for testimony and reaction as the design reached this stage. The other panel is the Regional Transportation Commission, which meets Wednesday.

In 2016, the design forged this year will begin to take shape as the $11 million project begins on Carson and West 3rd streets. The latter will be closed for a block to become a community plaza with a stage and a water amenity.

Chairperson Ronni Hannaman raised concern about whether the project can be done for $11 million, but city staff and a consultant said flexibility should allow for that.

“It seems totally inconceivable to me,” she said at the special RACC session held in the Community Center. She urged that the project plan should “make it the best possible without cheapening it” because there is one shot at it.

Eventually, the downtown public sector capital improvement project also will incorporate upgrades on four blocks of Curry Street as well. Carson Street upgrades will run from 5th Street on the south to William Street on the north. The Carson Street plan envisions wider sidewalks, a modicum of street parking, three instead of four lanes for cars and trucks, and bicycle lanes alongside the wider sidewalks. Construction hampering existing businesses was raised as a concern by Hannaman and Court Cardinal, a commission member, who also voiced concerns about sufficient parking near downtown core businesses.

The project is based on a “complete streets” concept and is aimed at enhancing downtown core businesses via street life, but Hannaman said there are vacancies now and she worried the construction period could add to them.

Some type of traffic-calming change for Carson Street has been envisioned for more at least a decade. An intervening recession slowed progress. A delayed federal/state bypass freeway project now finally is expected to be extended by 2017 and so this current downtown plan is moving forward as well.

Downtown makeover funding is from bonds based on underpinning finance for several capital projects via a one-eighth of a penny hike in city sales tax. The Board of Supervisors approved that hike last year.

There will be more public forums and similar panel meetings as design goes forward with more input at the 60 and 90 percent design stages later this year.


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