Alright so let's talk about South Virginia Street. The City council just finished absorbing a rapid-fire presentation on the update of the streetcar / light rail / landscaping project of South Virginia Street. The Street Car / light rail project is turning into comprehensive effort over at the Regional Transportation Commission. Forgive the fragmented writing below, I wrote this on my break at work. Plus the presenters had waaay too much coffee. I could barely keep up!

Portland-based Shiels | Obletz | Johnsen has been working on a report for the potential for light rail on South Virginia Street, and returned phase 1 of the report back to RTC. Here are the highlights:

- Corridor is well positioned for light rail. It's a linear corridor, already produces significant ridership, and holds greatest potential for public transportation
- There is the potential for hIgh quality transit to serve attractions including gaming, tourism, government and retail along South Virginia Street.

- The development potential over 20 years is estimated to be:

  • $500 million without streetcar, and 1.5 billion with streetcar.
  • The streetcar premium could generate 1 billion
  • 4,100 residential units
  • 7.4 square million feet of development
  • $60 million in property tax revenue
  • Projected development in reno: 9.5 million per mile over 20 years.
  • Return on public investment: 6 times the investment

- The above estimates would form the pinning's of the future financial plan. RTC has tapped the private market to assist with the financial plan, and will be cognitive of the risks before making any commitments.
- The groups involved looked at Little Rock, Portland and Seattle as examples and comparisons.

Transit Operational Framework Estimates:
- Currently 5,500 people a day use the bus system on South Virginia Street and this number is increasing.
- The light rail / Street Car system would link 8,850 hotel rooms, and provide the ability to connect downtown to UNR, convention center
- Would provide iconic value to tourists, residents

The Phasing options, which would/could be dictated by funds, include (in no particular order):
- UNR to downtown,
- Downtown Loop
- Downtown to Convention Center
- Convention Center to Meadowood Mall

The downtown service features would include couplets and circulate tourists, promoting development and walkability downtown.

Cost Estimates:
- Construction Cost: $37 million per mile, does include Amortized amount for maintenance
- Operating Cost: $1.2 to $1.4 million per mile, approx. .25 more than the current cost on South Virginia Street

- Local Finance options including tax sources, federal funds, fuel tax, UNR contribution and more

- John Hester mentioned that the Dept of Transportation is now looking at funding projects in terms of how they effect the environment, development potential, and community life.

Moving Forward:

RTC is continuing the project, looking at Service phasing options, Federal Eligibility and local financing options. Funding process could take 16 to 18 months. Could be asking for federal funds in January for engineering and planning. Federal funding is dependent on a local match, between 40% and 50%.

Regarding the landscaping portion of the project, there is not a lot of new information that I didn't present here. The public, in the past two public meetings, like the Organic look the best.