Southeast Connector not expected to foster new retail development

A sign at the south end of where the Southeast connector will end describes the project.

A sign at the south end of where the Southeast connector will end describes the project.

When completed at the end of this year, the Southeast Connector will provide a long-awaited link between east Sparks and South Reno.

Just don’t expect to stop for gas or a burger along the 5.5-mile route.

Because of its location, the Southeast Connector isn’t expected to foster much new commercial or retail development like other major arterial links have across the Truckee Meadows.Whereas much of the McCarran Loop opened fertile ground for new development, that’s not expected to hold true for the Southeast Connector.

The six-lane roadway stretches from Greg Street and Sparks Boulevard to South Meadows and Veterans parkways in the south part of town. Two new signals will be installed at Mira Loma and Pembroke drives. The first phase of the project, building a bridge over the Truckee River and constructing one mile of roadway, was completed by Kiewit Construction in 2014. Granite Construction is more than halfway through its $153 million working-day contract to construct the final 4.5 miles of roadway.

Problem is, much of that roadway doesn’t lend itself to additional development. Virtually the entire eastern portion of the 5.5-mile roadway is not developable, says Garth Oskol, engineering manager with the Regional Transportation Commission.

“It either (Rosewood Lakes) golf course, or the RTC owns it and it will be deed-restricted,” Oskol says. “It has to be left open for flood mitigation or wetland mitigation.”

That takes fully half the land surrounding the project out of the equation. Oskol says that a two-mile stretch of land on the west side of the project from South Meadows Parkway to Mira Loma is slated for residential and could be developed once the project is complete.

The land between Mira Loma and Pembroke Drive is home to Rosewood Lakes, and the land north of Pembroke to the Truckee River is primarily owned by University of Nevada, Reno and is zoned for agricultural use. Although zoning can be changed, Oskol notes, that’s not likely to happen for a recurring reason that just recently came to light once again.

“That area is sacred ground when it comes to floodwater storage,” Oskol says. “That is where the Truckee River backs up.”

Michael Moreno, public information officer with the RTC, says that the Southeast Connector truly was built with one purpose in mind: better movement of people, goods and services for residents of the Truckee Meadows.

“It connects the south with the east and will help them move much more efficiently,” Moreno says.

Mike Maloney, associate with the retail group at CBRE, says the only retail development in the Southeast Connector’s pathway should crop up near the intersections of South Meadows and Veterans parkways. There’s just not enough density anywhere else along the corridor’s route to support additional development, he says.

“If there is any growth on the commercial side with retail, it would be down at South Meadows Parkway,” Maloney says. “That South Meadows corner would be great for a neighborhood-centric retail development. We will have to wait and see when all the houses are all planned out, but you could see some retail and maybe a gas station.”

Oksol says the project is basically complete from Pembroke to Greg Street outside of some additional landscaping work. From Pembroke north through Rosewood Lakes Golf Course the ground is so soft that construction is on hold as the weight of the roadway compresses the ground prior to paving this spring.

From Mira Loma south to Veterans Parkway the project is in various stages of construction. There’s still a lot of flood mitigation, culvert and embankment work left to do — but crews are waiting for a string of brighter days, he says.

“With the weather, they are not out there doing any active construction work,” Oskol says.

Granite and the RTC still are waiting some consecutive days of sunshine to dry out the project from the flooding that hit the region in early January and the most recent snowstorm that blanketed the Truckee Meadows last week. Runoff from Steamboat Creek left a great deal of sediment that needs to be removed, Oskol says, but for the most part the intense flooding and moderate snowfall did not wreak havoc on the unfinished roadway.

It may, however, impact the working-day contract. There were weather days already factored into Granite’s working-day contract, but no one could have predicted the insane January rainfall and snowfall totals that have shattered precipitation records.

“We won’t fully know until we get the flood water that entered the project pumped out and get the area dried out,” Oskol says. “We just need some time to let the floodwaters recede and get back to construction. Once we get the area dried out and cleaned up we can look at what impact if any it will add to the construction schedule.

“If we run into a week of dry and sunny weather we can get back up on our feet quickly,” Oskol adds. “This is a historic January. It is all about Mother Nature but that is just the nature of any construction project.”


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