The Regional Transportation Commission of Northern Nevada will hold two meetings on Tuesday, April 14 and Wednesday, April 15, to allow the community an opportunity to give opinions and feedback on proposed improvements to Virginia Street along the edge of the University of Nevada, Reno and through MidTown.
The project aims to improve the streets encompassed in the area in several major ways, including extending the RTC RAPID bus line, which currently stops at 9th Street, to include UNR. The new RAPID stops could theoretically cut travel times to the university by up to 20 minutes, as it would cut out the now-necessary detour through the 4th Street station by adding several new bus stops between 8th Street and 15th Street.
The preliminary plans also include ideas to make Virginia Street an entrance to the campus through decorative roundabouts. That comes in addition to a possible widening of Virginia Street between 8th Street and 9th Street and the introduction of both bike lanes and improved sidewalks. Such improvements are the focus of RTC’s community outreach, according to RTC public information officer Joe Harrington.
“We have several different road configurations [planned] and we’re really hoping for a lot of engagement on campus,” Harrington said. “The improvements are taking place so close to campus, a lot of people who attend UNR, the faculty, the staff and of course the students themselves, are going to be the most impacted.”
Harrington also noted that the project would improve the MidTown area in terms of business in addition to making the area safer. He noted a current lack of “walkability” as poles stand in the middle of sidewalks and a general lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities act.
Additionally, RTC has been working with UNR to ensure that the project works in tandem with the current UNR master plan. Some of the area that will be affected by the project sits in what UNR has dubbed the Gateway Precinct, or the university’s foray into Downtown Reno.
The master plan also aims to “enhance key university entrances” through the addition of landscaping, signage and lighting. At least one of these key entrances would be augmented by the RTC project if the currently-proposed roundabouts remain in the plans.
By completion, the project would cost a total of $27.35 million with $5.6 million of that sum being fronted by RTC while an additional $6 million in federal funds by way of the Small Starts Grant Agreement. The federal money is tentative however, as the appropriation has yet to be approved by Congress. If passed though, the money would start rolling in by late 2016,
The arrival of federal funds would also coincide with the final planning phases of the Virginia Street project. All designs should be finalized by early 2017 and construction should start later that year. If all goes according to schedule, Virginia Street will be fully renovated by 2019.
The first meeting on Tuesday, April 14 will be held in The Discovery Museum from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. while the second meeting will be held on campus in room 4001 of the William J. Raggio building, also from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
More information on the project can be found at www.rtcwashoe.com/section-hot-topics
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