Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pyramid Highway & US 395 Connection Study?

The study involves preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The study evaluates potential transportation improvements along the Pyramid Highway corridor from Queen Way to Calle de la Plata, and improving east/west connectivity from US 395 to Vista Boulevard.

What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

An EIS is a document that details analysis to determine and evaluate the environmental and community impacts of potential solutions. It includes opportunities to avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts that a project solution may create if it is implemented.

How long will it take to complete this environmental study?

EIS studies and required document preparation can take anywhere from 3 to 10 years to complete depending on the complexity of the project and due to the intense level of public outreach, agency coordination, analysis, and the federal review process involved. This study began in 2008, and the RTCs current schedule is to complete the study by the end of 2015 and complete preparation of a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2016, which will conclude the NEPA process for this project.

How is the study being funded?

The study is being paid for by both federal and state funds.

Who will benefit from the study?

People who live and/or work in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County will greatly benefit from the much needed capacity and connectivity improvements that will be identified as part of the study. As one of only three north/south routes into and out of Spanish Springs and the one serving the highest volumes of traffic, capacity improvements will provide an immediate mobility benefit to the entire region and improve east/west connectivity among communities in the north Truckee Meadows.

After the study is complete, what is next?

A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) will be made available for the public for review. The Final EIS will identify a preferred alternative. A decision document called the Record of Decision (ROD) follows, identifying selection of the preferred alternative. After the ROD is completed, depending on the availability of funds, the RTC could move forward with final design of the selected alternative, acquire necessary right of way and begin to construct the first phases of the improvements.

How can I stay informed?

The best way to stay informed about the Pyramid Highway & US 395 Connection Study is to explore the study website and have your name added to our mailing list. You may send requests to be added to our mailing list by emailing Mark.Gallegos@CH2M.com.

For specific questions regarding the study or to submit comments, please contact:
Doug Maloy, PE
RTC PROJECT MANAGER
775-335-1865 (phone)
775-348-0170 (fax)
dmaloy@rtcwashoe.com

What is NEPA?

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is our country’s principal environmental policy that was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA is a process that governs federal agencies to prevent environmental damage and ensures that agency decision-makers take environmental factors into account.

The key product of a NEPA process is the required documents, in this case an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An EIS is a document that details analysis to determine and evaluate the environmental and community impacts of potential solutions. It includes opportunities to avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts that a project solution may create.

Several formal public meetings are held to provide input to the EIS analysis of alternatives. These meetings are:

Scoping Meeting – This meeting is designed to determine the scope of issues, the types of actions needed, and the range of alternatives to be considered and evaluated. (the Scoping Meeting was held in April, 2008)

Draft EIS Meeting – This meeting, a public hearing, disclosed and discussed the draft of the technical analysis of the environmental impacts and the alternatives on the proposed project. (the Draft EIS Meeting was held in October, 2013)

Final EIS – The Final EIS reflects considerations of all comments and contains the responses to the comments received on the Draft EIS (DEIS). The Final EIS (FEIS) identifies the preferred alternative.

The Record of Decision (ROD) – The lead agency files the Final EIS with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Federal Activities. The FHWA must publish a notice with the Federal Register that the Final EIS was received. Once this is complete, a 30-day period for public review begins. After this review period, and the lead agency considers comments received on the Final EIS, and a ROD is prepared documenting the project decision and the NEPA process is considered complete.

“No-action” Alternative – It is important to note that the “no-action” alternative is carried through the entire process for consideration as well as to serve as a baseline for impacts and benefits comparison.

ALTERNATIVES & CONCEPTS FAQ

Wouldn’t a West Sun Valley roadway carry enough traffic from Spanish Springs to relieve congestion within the Pyramid Corridor?

Redirecting traffic originating from north Spanish Springs and beyond destined for the Reno urban core to the south and west and away from the Pyramid Corridor via a West Sun Valley arterial was considered as a means to relieve congestion within the Pyramid Corridor. Traffic analysis performed as a part of this study demonstrated that this by itself would not provide significant benefit to the corridor due to two main factors.

First, would be its northerly connection to Spanish Springs. The volume of traffic originating this far north is not sufficient to make a significant difference in traffic congestion. If in 2035 all of the traffic north of the Eagle Canyon / La Posada intersection were to use a West Sun Valley Arterial instead of the Pyramid Highway, the Pyramid Corridor would still be congested, as would McCarran Boulevard between Pyramid Highway and US 395.

Second, the large number of destinations along the Pyramid Corridor attracts a significant percentage of trips within the corridor. The focus tends to be primarily on the major morning and evening commute movements. In fact, a significant percentage of trips within the corridor are associated with shopping and services, many of which are located at the southern end of the Pyramid Corridor in the area of Los Altos Parkway and Disc Drive. The numerous trips attracted to this area would not be served by a more northwesterly facility.

Therefore, a West Sun Valley Arterial would not meet the purpose and need of the study by reducing congestion and improving east/west connectivity. A West Sun Valley Arterial does provide other potential benefits, however, and remains in the RTC’s Regional Transportation Plan and would be further studied and implemented under a future, separate effort.

Would a Pyramid Freeway traveling through Sparks directly to I-80 provide the needed connectivity and congestion relief?

The most straightforward way to increase north/south capacity within the study area would be to extend a freeway facility to Interstate 80 along the existing Pyramid alignment through the City of Sparks. Although this would be conceptually viable from an engineering point of view, the impacts to the adjacent neighborhoods would be tremendous. A freeway facility through the heart of the City would severely disrupt access to homes, neighborhoods and businesses and would require an immense amount of relocations when compared to proposed preferred alternative. When compared to other concepts, three to five times the number of homes and businesses would need to be relocated to accommodate this type of facility.

Additionally, this concept would not reduce congestion on other facilities such as McCarran Boulevard and would not improve east/west connectivity.

What will the impact be to US 395?

The US 395 Connector would introduce additional traffic volumes to US 395 at the Parr Boulevard Interchange, and already congested location. The 2035 Regional Transportation Plan recognizes this and includes other improvements identified to increase capacity on US 395. Specifically, improvements to US 395 include widening from the Spaghetti Bowl to Parr Boulevard. Detailed analysis of improvements to US 395 is being completed by the Nevada Department of Transportation.