VIRGINIA STREET BUS RAPID TRANSIT EXTENSION PROJECT
The Virginia Street Bus RAPID Transit Extension Project is the first of multiple projects stemming from the Virginia Street Corridor Investment Plan and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Master Plan. The Project will create connectivity between UNR, downtown Reno, and Midtown and will encourage economic development, enhance safety, and improve livability in the corridor. The Project addresses critical transportation needs including improving transit connectivity, efficiency, and timeliness through connecting RAPID to the University, improving safety for all modes, correcting ADA sidewalk deficiencies, and improving traffic operations.
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The Upper South East Communities Coalition (USECC) filed a lawsuit against the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) following its issuance of the Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit, a key permit needed for phase two of the SouthEast Connector Project. In order to protect the public interest, the RTC filed a motion to become an intervener in the lawsuit. The RTC is confident in the decision by the USACE issued on April 16, 2015. This project as submitted and reviewed by the USACE and applicable state and federal regulatory agencies provides the least human impact, improves the environment and wildlife habitat, and brings significant benefits to the environment. A court hearing has not been scheduled on this lawsuit.
In addition to the lawsuit, the USECC sought an injunction to stop construction of the project. On June 3, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez denied the motion for injunctive relief. This decision was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; the USECC also filed a request for emergency injunction with the court. On July 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals denied the emergency motion for injunctive relief. Arugments are schedueld for October 19. The following legal documents are associated with this case, and are being made available as part of the RTC’s commitment to transparency with the public.
Oral Arguments Scheduled for Oct. 19
KEY PERMIT ISSUED FOR SOUTHEAST CONNECTOR PROJECT
Reno, NV (April 16, 2015) – The United States Army Corps of Engineers has approved and issued a key permit needed under section 404 of the Clean Water Act for completion of the SouthEast Connector project. The approval means the next phase of construction may move forward.
As anticipated, the permit requires some conditions, which RTC will comply with. The Corps did not require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), realign the path of the roadway or make any alterations to the project, which is a validation of the solid design, engineering and environmental work that has been done by RTC.
“The SouthEast Connector is much more than a needed roadway; it provides numerous benefits to the environment. I’m pleased the Corps has recognized those benefits in approving RTC’s application,” RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson said.
The Corps noted RTC’s innovative plan to help stop the spread of historic mercury within the SouthEast Connector Corridor. The plan calls for soil with higher concentrations of mercury to be permanently stored under the roadway and removed from exposure to ground water and the human environment. Currently, mercury is being spread by any flood events. Advanced modeling shows this plan will remove 22,000 pounds of mercury from further exposure to the
environment. The permit review found that RTC’s mercury mitigation plan is “protective of human health and the environment.”
Additionally, RTC is planning habitat restoration and other efforts to improve water quality and reduce erosion. The project will help the area return to a more natural floodplain. The project has been shown to reduce flood water elevations near homes and other buildings.
The SouthEast Connector will also help improve air quality. Modeling shows the roadway is needed to accommodate future growth and growth that has already occurred in the region. The project will reduce traffic congestion and the amount of idling vehicles, preventing pollution. A paved, multi-use path will also parallel the entire roadway, enabling people to make green trips, such as walking and biking while enjoying the natural environment and scenic views.
The first phase of the SouthEast Connector was substantially completed in July – ahead of schedule and under budget. The next phase will begin in the coming weeks and be marked by a community groundbreaking event. Full completion of the project is expected in late 2017. The remainder of the road to be constructed is about four and a half miles of the overall five and a half mile roadway. When completed, the SouthEast Connector will be dubbed Veterans Parkway, and will link Sparks to south Reno.