The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is in the midst of creating their 2040 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The RTP identifies transportation investments over the next 20 years. RTC is required to update the plan every four years in order to retain its eligibility for federal funding.
“We need to reassess as the region continues to grow, what the priorities are to the public,” Dan Doenges, planning administrator for RTC, said at the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan Update held July 12.
They base their updates on significant community input and technical analysis.
“We have done a lot of public outreach during the process to update the RTP,” Doenges said. “We have taken it to different demographics and modes of transportation.”
To date, RTC has conducted eight forums to engage with the community and collect public input. The forums allow RTC to gain insight from a variety of demographic groups from forums focusing on youth, seniors, economic development, veterans and more.
Some of the regional rail and bus projects that were suggested during the forums included implementing a streetcar on South Virginia Street and a streetcar to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, implementing a commuter rail from Truckee to Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) and converting freight rail to commuter rail from North Valleys. RTC plans to look into the feasibility of these suggestions.
In addition to public input, RTC is also pulling from the 2035 RTP and projects in recent and ongoing transportation studies.
One of the transportation studies they are in the process of drafting is a North Valleys plan, which will look at both short-term and long-term improvements in the area.
“It is a really fast growing region … (and) it’s not without its issues,” Doenges said. “As it is growing there are congestion and accessibility issues.”
According to Doenges, one of their goals outlined in the 2040 RTP plan is to integrate land use and economic development.
“It is something that is kind of a bone of contention to some people and historically that relationship hasn’t always been there,” he said. “But as the region grows all the stakeholders are starting to recognize the (importance) of that and are making great strides to improve that relationship.”
Another goal is to integrate all types of transportation. They want to include multimodal aspects to their projects such as improving bike lanes and accessibility. Between 2013 and 2015, RTC has installed 43.5 miles of bike lanes, 18.6 miles of sidewalks and 318 ADA compliant curb ramps. RTC is also working to increase their number of electric buses.
“We are trying to slowly build up our fleet to be more electrified,” he said.
They are renovating and expanding their bus maintenance facility located on Villanova Drive. The improvements will help to better accommodate their growing fleet of buses and the infrastructure to support and maintain their electric buses.
RTC is also seeing growth in their vanpool program. This is a volunteer program where groups of people can lease a vehicle to allow them to carpool to work. They currently have 94 vanpools in operation.
“This is really effective for longer haul commutes,” Doenges said.
They expect that the number of vanpools will continue to grow, especially in the TRIC area.
Doenges also highlighted some current RAPID improvement projects at the July meeting.
“We are really excited about two big projects we have going on, both in various stages,” he said.
The first is the 4th Street/Prater Way Bus RAPID Transit Project, which will extend bus service from Evans Avenue to Pyramid Way. Construction for the project is expected to start this year. The second project is the Virginia Street Bus RAPID Transit Extension. The project is designed to improve bus saturations, sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes in the Midtown area. The project will also extend RAPID service up to UNR to better serve university students and create better connectivity from the university to downtown and Midtown.
RTC receives funds from sales tax, fuel tax and federal funds they receive as a metropolitan planning organization. According to Doenges, they cannot use federal funds for anything that is not in an approved plan.
RTC is holding their next 2040 RTP Community Planning Workshop on Thursday, Aug. 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Nugget in Sparks. At the workshop, they will present more detailed information on the projects that will be outlined in the 2040 RTP.
For more information on the 2040 RTP, visit www.rtcwashoe.com and click on Hot Topics.