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RTC Commissioners,

Below, you will find your June 2015 RTC Board Update e-News. This electronic newsletter will be distributed monthly 2 weeks following your Board meeting. Please contact Michael Moreno or me with any questions you may have. Michael can be reached at(775) 335-1869 or email at mmoreno@rtcwashoe.com.

Lee G. Gibson, AICP, Executive Director
Ph: (775)348-0400 Fax: (775)324-3503
E-mail:lgibson@rtcwashoe.com

SOUTHEAST CONNECTOR INJUNCTION DENIED

SouthEast Connector YouTube Video screenshot

On June 3, Judge John Mendez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order denying the Upper South East Communities Coalition's request for a preliminary injunction to stop construction of the Southeast Connector. Based on the evidence, the court determined that none of the coalition's claims are likely to succeed on the merits. This means that the coalition's claims of an ineffective public comment process, threats to human health from methylmercury, increased flooding, and a biased review of alternatives are unlikely to succeed. We are deeply gratified by the court's finding. The decision is legal confirmation that RTC conducted itself properly in the planning and design of the project.

RTC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers followed the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. We listened to community input and modified the project design to address legitimate public concerns. The alignment the SEC follows was selected appropriately after significant technical studies and analysis. RTC and the Corps followed the legal requirements to compare alternatives based on logistics, cost and technology. Doing so led to the conclusion that the current alignment is the least environmentally-damaging practicable alternative.

The court noted the coalition failed to acknowledge that non-selected alternatives would have required the taking of residents' homes. As for an ineffective public comment process, the RTC has conducted nearly 200 community presentations and public meetings to date, a critical element of this process. One example includes the consultation with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. After receiving their input and comments, the RTC modified the project design and is now building a wetland system in harmony with the road that will not create an environment where mercury can become the more dangerous methylmercury. We are correcting a 150-year-old environmental problem from the Comstock mining days. The RTC has properly considered the human and physical environments, and made decisions in the best interest of the community. Judge Mendez noted that the RTC is "improving the environment," as supported by the extensive analysis done by the Corps, and other federal and state agencies.

The court's findings validate that your RTC has developed a project that is good for our community's mobility as well as our environment. We used sound science and engineering to develop the design and mitigate environmental impacts. We used community input to a level that has resulted in a project that will afford substantial benefits such as emergency access during flood events.

The judge pointed out that the coalition simply did not like the outcome of the Corps' and RTC's analysis, despite full compliance with the governing process. We ask that the coalition stop this wasteful litigation and respect Judge Mendez's decision that their claims are unfounded and not likely to succeed. Going forward, the RTC will continue to build the SEC. We are committed to working with the community, as is our contractor Granite Construction, during the 30-month construction time to deliver a much needed and important component to our regional transportation system that will improve regional mobility and restore environmental quality.

The Upper South East Communities Coalition has filed an appeal of Judge Mendez’s decision. A court date has not yet been set for the matter.

Visit: southeastconnector.com to learn more about this project.

RTC BOARD ACCEPTS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE REPORT

picture of Blue Ribbon Committee being honored for their service
Members of the Blue Ribbon Committee were honored for their service at the June 19 RTC Board meeting.

The Blue Ribbon Committee for Transit, comprised of high profile community and business leaders, has been meeting to review the RTC’s financial status and make recommendations to sustain the transit system. Currently operating at a deficit, it is possible routes would need to be cut in future years without identifying solutions to challenges. After a thorough vetting of ideas, the committee voted to recommend the following to the RTC Board: • Adopt Strategies to Manage Costs – The advisory committee recommends modernizing and simplifying fare collection structures.

  • Do Not Cut Transit Service – Reducing service should be a last resort.
  • Increase Revenue for Transit – Place family-friendly advertising at bus stops and flex more sales tax to fund transit when needed. The group also urges the board to seek a ballot measure for transit revenue. Other recommended ideas include: creating a transportation improvement district, monitor activity related to tax reform and seek increased flexibility in spending fuel tax revenues.
  • Strategies to Increase Ridership – Further develop a student pass program and integrate it into student fees, enabling students to ride by showing their college or university IDs.
  • Targeted Educational Program – Develop an educational plan to increase ridership and target millennials.

VIRGINIA STREET COMMUNITY WORKSHOP

picture of people at the Virginia Street community workshop
Members of the public shared their ideas at a workshop on June 18 at the Discovery Museum.

Members of the public experienced a hands-on workshop to help plan the future of Virginia Street. The Virginia Street Bus RAPID Transit Extension Project will provide RAPID bus service up to the University of Nevada, Reno eliminating the need for an additional transfer at RTC 4TH STREET STATION. The project will also create better multi-modal connectivity between UNR, Downtown Reno and Midtown.

So far, members of the public have encouraged the RTC to widen sidewalks, provide bike amenities and increase parking in the Midtown area. Near UNR, a roundabout is being considered by Lawlor Events Center and a bus-only lane.

The extensive public input to date will be reviewed in developing a preferred alternative to be presented to the Reno City Council on July 22 for additional direction. To receive update on meetings and about the project, sign up at: virginiastreetRAPIDextension.com. The web site also contains exhibits from public meetings to date. People may also go on the web site to take a short survey to tell us their preferences through July 17.

RTC DEBUTS NEW FEATURES ON SOCIAL MEDIA

RTC Facebook page picture
Get social with RTC! Join us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and find out all that is going on with the Regional Transportation Commission.

With more than 89,000 impressions on Facebook alone last year, the RTC continues to develop its social media presence. Beginning in July, the RTC will debut several new features, including “Tidbit Tuesday” and “SouthEast Connector: Did You Know?” Tidbit Tuesday will provide useful facts about the RTC and transportation in general. The SouthEast Connector related-posts will be posted on Thursdays and provide information about: this innovative, large-scale project that involves extensive habitat restoration. Everyone is encouraged to join the RTC on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to add to the discussions and learn more about all the agency does in our community.

SERVE ON THE BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN ADVISORY COMMITTEE

BPAC meeting photo
The Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee discussed transportation issues at a recent meeting.

The RTC has exciting opportunities for anyone interested in safety, pedestrian and bicycle issues and the future of the Truckee Meadows. There are currently openings on the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) for full term and alternate members. This committee has an important role, discussing multi-modal transportation issues, giving input on projects and proposals and making recommendations to the RTC Board.

There are twelve members of the committee and terms are for three years. To apply, and learn more, go to: rtcwashoe.com and click on Advisory Committees under the About tab. The RTC accepts applications for all committees regardless of whether there are currently openings.

SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS UNVEILED NEAR BONANZA CASINO

picture of RTC commissioners and NDOT Director at public unveiling of safety improvements at Bonanza Casino
RTC Commissioners Hillary Schieve, Bob Lucey and Vaughn Hartung joined NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon and RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson for an announcement about the North Virginia Street safety improvements on June 5.

The RTC joined the Nevada Department of Transportation in unveiling a new traffic signal near the Bonanza Casino in northern Reno. With pedestrian deaths up in 2014, this project will help improve safety. A 125 foot concrete barrier wall was also installed and a bus stop relocated slightly to behind the guard rail.

This NDOT project is part of $10 million NDOT is committing to fund pedestrian safety projects in Washoe and Clark counties. Your RTC makes pedestrian safety a top priority in all projects and continues its ongoing outreach and education efforts.

STUFF-A-BUS FOR SENIORS BRINGS IN HUGE DONATIONS

picture of RTC Director of Public Transportation thanking the community for their support at Aces stadium for Stuff-A-Bus for Seniors
RTC Director of Public Transportation Operations David Jickling thanks the crowd for the community support during the May 2015 Stuff-A-Bus for Seniors Donation Drive Day at an Aces game on May 29.

Stuff-A-Bus for Seniors was a big success easily topping last year’s donations. Cash, check and gift card donations totaled: $2,692! This event, which was a partnership with the City of Reno, Washoe County Senior Services, and the Reno Aces, also collected numerous needed items. Donated were: 63 bags of clothing, 40 bags of hygiene products, 27 bags of cleaning supplies, 31 circulation fans, 14 RTC ACCESS passes and 10 shopping carts.

The drive was held during the month of May, which is Older Americans Month. Businesses and public agencies collected items in specially marked donation barrels, which were picked up by a RTC bus. The bus then drove to the Aces Ballpark where people continued to stuff it full of donations just prior to an Aces game. Thanks to everyone who made this event a tremendous success.

Upcoming Meetings/Events

July 1
July 3
July 17
July 22
 
Your RTC. Our Community.