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RTC Commissioners,

Below, you will find your November 2015 RTC Board Update e-News. This electronic newsletter will be distributed monthly 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 LAWSUIT DISMISSED

Veterans Memorial Bridge at the SouthEast Connector
SouthEast Connector's Veterans Memorial Bridge was completed as part of the project's first phase

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed the lawsuit that had sought to stop construction of the SouthEast Connector. The Upper South East Communities Coalition filed the suit, claiming that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and RTC of Washoe County did not adequately examine the project’s environmental impacts and violated both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Clean Water Act. On Nov. 18, the Coalition filed a stipulation for dismissal, seeking to voluntarily dismiss its lawsuit. The dismissal comes in the wake of two recent major federal court decisions that denied the Coalition’s requests for an injunction.

In June, U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez denied the Coalition’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop construction of the SouthEast Connector. Then, on November 2, a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld Judge Mendez’s ruling. The panel explained, “The record before us does not suggest that the district court here relied on an erroneous legal premise, made clearly erroneous factual findings, or abused its discretion in concluding that [the Coalition] failed to show a probability of success on the merits.”

Judge Mendez determined, despite the Coalition’s claim to the contrary, that the Corps had adopted mitigation measures in response to identified environmental impacts, properly involved the public in accordance with its procedures, and effectively compared alternatives and “did properly conclude that the project was the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative,” as required by federal law. The Judge stated that comments from the public were “extensive” and that the Corps responded to the comments “at length”.

The RTC conducted a comprehensive public outreach process, with nearly 200 open meetings, throughout the development of the SouthEast Connector project. The process included extensive input from the Coalition.

The district court determined that the Coalition’s argument “overlooks the fact that, as part of the required mitigation effort upon which the Corps conditioned approval of the permit, this project will actually result in a net increase of wetlands”. Similarly, the court characterized the Coalition’s claims regarding mercury to be “belied by the record in this case”, finding the Corps’ mandate that mercury deposits be excavated and sequestered to be “well-reasoned”.

With finding the Coalition had no likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that the Corps violated federal law, Judge Mendez denied the Coalition’s request to enjoin the RTC.

RTC has been and is moving forward with construction of the Southeast Connector. All throughout this extensive permitting process, the Corps complied with NEPA and the Clean Water Act- that is their mandate and they do it very well. As a transportation project, the SouthEast Connector is going to make people’s commutes easier and support connectivity to new jobs throughout the region. The RTC took the environmental issues presented by this project very seriously – it is, after all, our area’s community and ecosystem. Anyone who thinks this area is currently pristine is just plain wrong. As part of the RTC’s construction efforts to date, we have removed approximately 4 million pounds of garbage – auto parts, refrigerators, tires and other solid waste; and will be removing 460 million pounds of whitetop and whitetop infested soil.

The RTC went well above the minimum mitigation standards to create a sustainable project that meets both environmental and regional congestion relief goals. After construction of the road, we will have also restored over 170 acres of wetlands and riparian habitat; provided for the removal and sequestration of potentially hazardous materials, and constructed a bicycle and pedestrian multi-use trail. This effort will, as the court recognized, provide a net environmental benefit to the area, carried out in compliance with applicable local, state, and federal law.

Features of the project include a 5.5 mile roadway linking Sparks to south Reno; a paved multi-use path that will parallel the road; converting seven acres of unhealthy wetlands into an 80 acre self-sustaining wetland complex; and sequestering soil with high levels of mercury under the new roadway estimated to permanently remove 22,000 pounds of mercury from being exposed to the environment.

Now that the lawsuit is over, a community open house to present the project in its entirety will be held in January. Details will be announced in the next eNews.

The project is on schedule to be completed in late 2017. For project information, go to http://southeastconnector.com.

THE RTC KICKS OFF NORTH VALLEYS REGIONAL MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION STUDY

A presentation will be given to the North Valleys Citizens Advisory Board as the RTC begins an extensive study to examine opportunities for Complete Street enhancements, safety improvements and capacity projects in the North Valleys area. The study will involve extensive public outreach with stakeholder and public meetings. The area being studied has experienced significant business and residential growth, and includes major distribution facilities including PetCo and Amazon.  The limits of the study are roughly the state line to the west, Sun Valley to the east, McCarran Boulevard to the south and Cold Springs to the north. The first public meeting will take place early in 2016.  Go to http://www.rtcwashoe.com and use the calendar feature to stay informed about future meetings or go to the Hot Topics page. The RTC will make presentations at the Ward 4 Neighborhood Advisory Board and the North Valleys Citizens Advisory Board. The CAB presentation will be on Dec. 14 at the North Valleys Regional Park Community Building at 6 p.m. The Ward 4 NAB presentation date will be announced on the City of Reno's website.

THE RTC BEGINS UPDATE OF SHORT RANGE TRANSIT PLAN

The RTC has begun the process of updating the FY 2017-2021 Short Range Transit Plan (SRTP). The SRTP is a guide for the provision of transit services in our community for the next five years. It also serves as the short range element of the 30-Year Regional Transportation Plan which we will begin to update in 2016. Development of the SRTP will  provide opportunities for public involvement over the next six months. In early December, a series of stakeholder meetings and focus groups will take place and a community meeting will be held in January. For a list of meetings, simply refer to list at the bottom of the eNews.

Transit is very important to a vibrant economy by taking riders to and from work and visitors throughout the Truckee Meadows. The plan involves all RTC transit services including: RIDE, RAPID, ACCESS, carpools and vanpools.  Among the groups whose input is specifically being sought are seniors, individuals with disabilities, high school and university students and coach operators. Whether you use public transportation or you do not, this plan affects you and, therefore, your comments are needed and desired. The entire region benefits from efficient and effective public transportation, which creates economic prosperity and a livable community. If you would like to participate and share your ideas, let us know. 

STUFF-A-BUS FOR SENIORS

Items for seniors sit on RTC bus seats
Donations fill a RTC electric bus during a previous Stuff-A-Bus for Seniors event in May 2014.

On December 2 you can help needy seniors in the community with the donation of NEW items.  The RTC is once again partnering with the City of Reno, Reno Aces Ball Club and Washoe County Senior Services to Stuff-A-Bus for Seniors.  The event will take place outside the Aces Ballpark where you can drop off items from 11:30 am to 6 pm.  Seniors need NEW blankets, jackets, coats and sweaters.  Also requested are: cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products and adult diapers.  You can even help by donating a gift card for groceries, pet supplies or bus passes.  Everyone who donates will receive a free skate rental!  The event coincides with the lighting of the City of Reno’s Christmas tree, making it a perfect opportunity to bring items for our seniors on the way to the event.  Items may also be dropped off in barrels at the RTC on Terminal Way, Washoe County Administration Building on Ninth Street and Reno City Hall through Dec. 11.

REGION RECOGNIZED FOR BEING BIKE FRIENDLY

Food Bank Logo

Reno, Sparks and Washoe County are being recognized as a bike friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists at the bronze level. The Truckee Meadows first received this designation in fall 2011, the first community in the state of the Nevada to receive the distinction.  Among the criteria considered when awarding this designation were the number of arterial streets with bike lanes, total bike network mileage and amount of public education about bicycling. Since 2004, the RTC has installed more than 160 miles of bike lanes in the community.

This summer the RTC completed installation of new bike lanes on Keystone Avenue from University Terrace to Coleman Drive – they are among only two bike facilities in the county designated with green pavement markings for heightened awareness of mode sharing. The RTC installed the only buffered bike lanes in Nevada along Victorian Avenue/Nichols Boulevard, linking the Sparks Marina and Victorian Square. Working with the public, the RTC is planning for the many ways people get around, as the RTC develops a Complete Streets Master Plan and updates the Reno Sparks Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. Complete Streets improve safety and mobility for all types of transportation.  Community meetings to gather public input for these plans will continue in early 2016.

FOOD FOR FARE

Food Bank Logo

103,000 people in northern Nevada depend on the Food Bank of Northern Nevada for assistance every month.  The RTC is partnering with the Food Bank for the 23rd year in one of the biggest annual food drives for the organization, Food for Fare.  On Thursday, December 10, and Friday, December 11, RTC transit riders can pay their fare with the non-perishable, non-expired food donation to support the Food Bank.  Even those not riding may support the drive, by simply handing any coach operator a donation.  According to the Food Bank, one in four kids doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from.  In Nevada, it is estimated 440,000 people suffer from this type of food insecurity.  The Food Bank will work with 135 partner agencies to distribute the donated food throughout the state.

For more information, go to: http://fbnn.org

RTC TEAM LEADS THE WAY TOWARD PROCESS IMPROVEMENT

Members of the Process Improvement Team discussed establishing the guiding principles to conduct their work.

In an effort to create efficiency, streamline work and eliminate waste, the RTC has formed a Process Improvement Team Steering Committee or “PIT Crew” to implement a process improvement program. The PIT Crew has been meeting monthly as a committee to create the framework for employees to suggest process improvement ideas and for those ideas to be evaluated for possible implementation through a formal project or with Just Do Its – suggestions that don’t require a formal process or facilitationProcess improvement project teams will examine how and why specific processes are currently being carried out, then outline and recommend streamlined improvements for that process.

The RTC aims to save taxpayer money by creating more efficient systems and methods that improve processes, not only for the RTC employees, but for our customers and other members of the community.  The PIT Crew members recently completed Lean Six Sigma training and received their green belt certification which enables them to facilitate process improvement project teams. The RTC has also reached out to other municipalities and jurisdictions to explore the possibility of extending this training beyond the RTC. Programs, such as Lean Six Sigma, are used to develop and implement process improvements in government nationwide.

STATE WEBSITE HIGHLIGHTS FUTURE TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

Information on RTC projects and transportation projects statewide is now available on a new website through the Nevada Department of Transportation’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program or STIP.  The Electronic STIP (ESTIP) may be accessed here: http://estip.nevadadot.com.  The web site contains maps by county and an easily searchable database of future projects.  Individuals may search by location and also by agency.  The RTC, along with other transportation agencies, is pleased to provide data for the ESTIP, which is part of the agency’s on-going commitment to transparency.

BE IN THE KNOW WHEN THERE'S ICE AND SNOW! Snow Icon

With the colder months off to a wet and snowy start, the RTC is reminding transit riders to know their snow routes. RTC RIDE Routes 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 15, or 17 could be detoured if snow or ice makes driving difficult. In addition, transit services could be delayed in the event of severe weather. One easy way to stay informed about delays or detours to sign up for text or e-mail alerts. Go to: http://www.rtcwashoe.com and click on Transit Alerts. The RTC staff is constantly monitoring weather conditions and forecasts to prepare for severe weather. Many buses are equipped with automatic chains that deploy from the wheel wells. Visibility may be reduced during snow, so be sure to be visible and cross streets only at designated locations.

FREE IMMUNIZATION CLINIC AT RTC 4TH STREET STATION

As part of the RTC’s commitment to creating safe and healthy communities, RTC is partnering with Immunize Nevada to offer a free flu vaccination clinic.  The event will be held at the RTC 4TH STREET STATION on Dec. 9. from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and commemorates Nevada Influenza Vaccination Week.  Flu vaccines will be provided by a Walgreens pharmacist on a first-come first-served basis to people ages seven and above. Although insurance is not required, those being vaccinated should bring their insurance card if they have one. For more information go to: https://www.influencenevada.org

PRSA SIERRA NEVADA CHAPTER HONORS RTC TV SEGMENT

Horses graze near the SouthEast Connector
RTC Public Affairs Administrator Michael Moreno, RTC Public Information Officer Joe Harrington, KOLO-TV Account Executive Tom Petersen, and RTC Graphic Designer/Web Designer Nancy Mues receive recognition at the Silver Spike Awards on Nov. 19.

The Public Relations Society of America Sierra Nevada Chapter has recognized the RTC’s weekly TV segment, The Road Ahead with RTC.  The segment received the Award of Excellence at the PRSA’s Silver Spikes Award Ceremony.  The segment was judged against many other entries and scored points for its innovation and creativity in reaching the community.  The segment was launched 9 ½ years ago as an additional method of keeping the community informed about the RTC and encouraging public involvement.  The segment has since expanded its air time on KOLO 8 significantly as well as its online presence.  The segment features on-location interviews about the RTC’s programs and projects, information about safety,  and how residents may become involved. The Road Ahead with RTC airs during KOLO 8's Good Morning Reno on Tuesdays, at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and at 11 a.m. on Thursdays.  View the latest and previous editions of The Road Ahead with RTC here: http://kolotv.com/rtc

INTRODUCING THE PASSENGER SERVICES TEAM

Food Bank Logo

The friendly and helpful Passenger Services Associates are key to helping people navigate the RTC transit system and answer questions.  This dedicated group is based at RTC 4TH STREET STATION, where they work directly with the public in-person and provide information to those calling 348-RIDE.  Part of the Public Transportation Operations Department, Passenger Services receives dozens of calls every day and associates are constantly providing advice and information to members of the public on transit routes and schedules. Passenger Services is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Passenger Services is closed on Sundays and all major holidays, which are detailed in the RTC Bus Book.

upcoming events

Dec. 2 Technical Advisory Committee
Dec. 2 Citizens Multimodal Advisory Committee
Dec. 2 Stuff-A-Bus for Seniors
Dec. 8 SRTP Senior Focus Group
Dec. 8 SRTP StakeHolder Forum
Dec. 9 SRTP Focus Groups (riders and students)
Dec. 9 Free Flu Vaccine Clinic
Dec. 10 SRTP Stakeholder Forums (2)
Dec. 10 and 11 Food for Fare
Dec. 18 RTC Board Meeting
   
   

 

     
Your RTC. Our Community.