Continued growth and development in North Valleys to come, residents voice concerns
North Valley is one of the areas with the most anticipated growth. Residents are already experiencing growing pains with increased traffic and currently flooding due to this year’s large amount of precipitation.
The City of Reno held a public workshop meeting Tuesday, Feb. 28 to present planned development and infrastructure improvements for the North Valleys area.
There is a potential to build approximately 15,393 single-family homes and 1,676 multifamily units in the North Valleys area over the next 20 to 30 years, according to city officials. These numbers are based on development projects that have either been approved or are under review by the City of Reno.
“The growth numbers are real,” Councilmember Jenny Brekhus said. “Reno can go either way. We can do this growth thing well or we can do it poorly.”
Brekhus said that the community needs quality growth and she has high expectations from the development community as the growth continues.
Some of the challenges city officials are working on addressing include increasing police officers and firefighters as well as making sure North Valley’s infrastructure can handle the growth.
“Schools are also a hot topic particularly in the North Valleys,” Claudia Hanson, planning manager for the City of Reno, said.
With the funding from WC-1, the school district plans to build three new high schools, three middle schools and nine elementary schools within Washoe County. Hanson said that one of the high schools is planned for the Cold Springs area and one or more elementary schools is under discussion to help alleviate the growth in North Valleys, however it is unlikely that North Valleys will get an additional middle school in the near future.
Traffic in the North Valleys is already congested and residents voiced concerns that more development would only aggravate the congestion.
“We really do have some of the worse traffic congestion in the (North Valleys),” Amy Cummings, director of planning for RTC, said.
Cummings presented RTC’s North Valleys Multimodal Transportation Study which identified improvement needed to intersections, crosswalks and congested roadways.
“As we look at all the projects in the pipeline, (traffic) will continue to increase,” Cummings said.
Planned short-term improvements include:
Pedestrian and crosswalk improvement to Stead Boulevard, Silver Lake Road, Ural State and Lemmon Drive and Surge Street
Intersection geometric improvements at North Virginia Street and Golden Valley Road, which is under construction
Signalizing Intersections at Lemmon Drive and US 395 on and off ramps, as well as Red Rock Road and Moya Boulevard
NDOT Senior Project Manager Nick Johnson said that some of their planned improvements include safety precautions such as ramp meters, traffic cameras and the US 395 Pavement Rehabilitation Projects, which include improvements from the Spaghetti Bowl to McCarran Boulevard/Clear Acre Lane in 2018-2019 and improvements from Clear Acre Lane to Lemmon Drive in 2020-2021.
NDOT is also in the initial stages of planning for improvements to the Spaghetti Bowl, but it will be many years before the improvements come to fruition.
“We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do here,” Johnson said about the Spaghetti Bowl Project.
Many residents of North Valleys spoke out during the meeting in frustration about continued industrial and residential development while they are dealing with ongoing flooding due to the winter storms.
There are three closed basin lakes in North Valleys, meaning the water doesn’t flow to the river. The record amount of water is creating major flooding in the area.
“We are living with the fact that we didn’t plan for the water to get this high,” Councilmember Paul McKenzie said.
“We are going to have to look at those closed basins in the future as we develop to make sure that we don’t create this environment again,” McKenzie added.
However, promises for the future does not ease the flooding problems that residents are experiencing now.
“Why didn’t you think about where all that water was going to go when you developed in the first place?” said a gentleman during the public question and answer session of the meeting. “… I have been out in that county for 38 years, we do not want all of this (development).”
“(The flooding) is a real problem and it is a problem that is, unfortunately, going to take some time,” Acting City Manager Bill Thomas said.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.