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Reno Transit Corridor Update

In the summer of 2007, The City Council and city staff began working with RTC to implement specific action plans to improve transit along the South Virginia corridor. Council directed City staff to work with Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) staff to evaluate and recommend which improvement option should be employed for the portions of South Virginia Street to improve transit, and analyzed the surrounding neighborhood for positive/negative impacts. This year, Council accepted the recommended concept, the action plan for moving forward and recommendations to begin implementing seven specific items that support the overall concept.

The seven specific items are:
1. Implement bus rapid transit (BRT) which is being done under the authority of and at the direction of the RTC;
2. Modify the Reno Municipal Code to add station requirements and design standards;
3. Modify the Reno Municipal Code and/or seek necessary legislation to allow Regional Road Impact Fee (RRIF) credits for parking lots if construction of a new lot adjacent to Virginia Street creates right-of-way for autos and mixed auto/transit;
4. Enhance streetscape standards;
5. Include streetcar and LRT capacity in Virginia Street bridge design;
6. Multimodal center plan; and
7. Establish a stakeholder group or groups to provide input in preparation of plans for lane reconfiguration, on-street parking, operational and construction costs, and transit free zones like now used with Sierra Spirit, etc.

The following outlines the status of current efforts to implement the Council direction.

1. Bus Rapid Transit (Phase 1 of the overall concept) – On October 11, 2009, RTC implemented new BRT service on South Virginia Street consisting of RTC RAPID and RAPID CONNECT between CitiCenter in downtown Reno and Meadowood Mall. The last progress meeting for the BRT Stations Project was held on January 5, 2010. The following schedule, as provided by Stantec was discussed:

Conceptual design - February 2010
First Public meeting - February 2010
Preliminary Design - May 2010
Second Public Meeting - May 2010
Final Design - July 2010
Advertise for Construction - August 2010
Construction - November 2010

2. Station Requirements – This code amendment has been added to the program of Reno Municipal Code amendments to be processed in FY 2009/2010.

3. Regional Road Impact Fee – The proposed option was presented at the September RTC TAC meeting. Additionally, staff has been discussing the option of creating a different benefit district for each TOD with a different, or no, Regional Road Impact Fee.

4. Complete Streets Project (a.k.a., Streetscape Standards) – The contract was awarded to Wood Rodgers and the first meeting was held with the consultant, City, and RTC on December 18, 2009. COR Redevelopment is providing GIS layers to consultant; consultant is assembling stakeholders list, that will be coordinated with a stakeholders list developed by this Committee; and COR Engineering is working with consultant regarding street cross section data. The Consultant has created a web site for this project: www.sovi-completestreet.com.

5. Virginia Street Bridge – Responses from engineering/planning consultants to an RFP for the Virginia Street Bridge replacement project were received by Public Works on December 21, 2009 and are currently under review.

6. Multimodal Center – The Engineering/Planning/Operations/Maintenance sub-committee will be working on this task during FY 2009/2010. The use of ReTRAC enhancement funds in excess of $500,000 were recently approved by the Reno City Council.

7. Virginia Street Projects Coordinating Committee (VSPCC) – The VSPCC, consisting of representatives from the City of Reno, RTC, and Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency (TMRPA), was formed in November 2009 to coordinate on-going projects along the Virginia Street Transit Corridor. On-going projects include Virginia Street Transit (streetcars/light-rail), Bus Rapid Transit Stations, Complete Streets (RDA Streetscape Standards, lane and sidewalk configurations), Virginia Street Bridge, Virginia Street TEA-21 (6th-8th Street pedestrian enhancements), Transit System Priority and Queue Jump, and Multi-Modal Center.

Tying it all together

At the November 20, 2009 VSPCC meeting, RTC announced that the Federal Transportation Agency took one day to approve changing a pre-existing grant from $200,000 to $400,000 to be used for streetcar/light-rail planning. RTC will be heading this effort, and is in the process of developing an RFP for consultant services.
At the December 21, 2009 VSPCC meeting, the Committee discussed the importance of identifying stakeholders that should be briefed on the on-going Virginia Street projects. The first public meeting for the BRT Station project is planned for February 2010 and will include a discussion on the streetcar and complete streets projects.
During the most recent VSPCC meeting January 4, 2010, the Committee decided to form an “Informal Corridor Committee” after presenting the concept to the City Council. The Committee would consist of various community and business interests that are or represent property owners along Virginia Street, would serve the purpose of identifying and recommending project funding opportunities for the Virginia Street Transit Project, and would become advocates for the proposed project. This Committee would meet a minimum of three times within the next six weeks and would be directed to report their findings back to the VSPCC no later than April 1, 2010, so that staff can return to the Reno City Council on April 14, 2010 and the RTC Board at their April Board Meeting with the Committee findings and recommendations.
In addition, staff from the City and RTC has made a number of presentations on the proposed project. Those who have received the presentation have included the University Presidents Council, NEWCO properties (Circus-Circus, Eldorado, Harrah’s and Silver Legacy) representatives, Meadowood Mall management, Grubb and Ellis, NAI Alliance, the Planning and Building Enterprise Funds Advisory Committee, the Redevelopment Agency advisory Board, and the Downtown Improvement Association. Upcoming presentations are scheduled with representatives from the Atlantis and Peppermill, the RSCVA Board, the University Senate, and other property owners. Staff will appear on at least one upcoming public affairs television show.


Post your comments
Posted by: Candace - 1/23/2010 11:23:16 AM
Instead of all the costly upgrades and refinements, how about we first get the buses to run on time? That would be a vast improvement.

Posted by: Agent-J - 1/30/2010 9:55:12 AM
The "Rapid" buses are substantially empty at all hours, I am all over town at different times of day and see it with my own eyes. This was supposed to be a proof of concept first step. Live with the results and scrap this boondogle NOW!!! They have already spent a tremendous amount of money, this will not work on S. Virgina. Light rail is a finacial "win" less than 15% of the time. STOP!!!!

Posted by: Greg - 5/11/2010 2:41:17 PM
"Light rail is a finacial "win" less than 15% of the time." Umm...where did this statistic come from? The RAPID buses are empty because..well, they are buses. (RAPID is not Bus Rapid Transit, that stage of development isn't happening until later this year.) And even when the BRT system is implemented, transitioning to a light rail system will still be better because it will mean more development along Virginia St. Businesses are simply more attracted to light rail corridors than they are to buses.

Posted by: Anakin-Marc - 5/11/2010 4:45:30 PM
I think the only time I've ever seen the buses empty is the times when almost nobody is riding anyways (the hours past midnight). Other times, the buses have always had riders. Maybe not packed, but definitely not empty. What I would like to see is a comparison of ridership between the old Route 1 and the current Rapid/Connect setup.


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