Little city no more

If you haven’t seen any advertisements for, I encourage you to wake up from that coma, because they’re everywhere—billboards, TV, you name it.

This Web site is run, of course, by the Regional Transportation Commission, which is currently developing a transportation plan based on approved developments in the Truckee Meadows over the next 30 years. The group is working fairly urgently on the thing right now, since it has an August deadline to submit the plan to the Federal Highway Administration, making it eligible for federal help.

As these ads for have been asking me and everyone else who sees/hears/smells them for our opinions, I decided to surf my way to the Web site to learn what is being considered and to give my two cents’ worth as a concerned citizen.

Let me first start off by saying the site scares the hell out of me.

Lemme clarify here. The site itself is great. It’s well-designed, informative and user-friendly. But the options for the 2030 plan are what’s scary. The site gives three “packages” on possible future plans (including road widening, new interchanges, new roads, etc.), and they break down like this.

1. Maintain current traffic standards and congestion.

2. Do enough so that traffic will merely get a little worse.

3. Accept that traffic is going to get simply awful.

Yikes. I officially declare that Reno/Sparks is no longer a little city, and that we’d better be figuring out a new motto for this burgeoning burg in which we live.

The Web site includes a public opinion survey that also gives some alarming insight into what lies ahead. The survey consists of statements with five possible responses (ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree"). Some of the statements, such as the first one, are utterly ridiculous: I would support making no changes to the road network, such as additional lanes and new roads, accepting that traffic congestion will worsen, adding to our travel time and increasing air pollution. Would someone please lobotomize those who say they “strongly agree” with this, please?

However, others clearly indicate what is in our future:

I would support funding roadway widening projects (additional lanes) with a user fee, such as an increase in the gas tax.

I support funding new public transit service with a sales tax increase.

The future of Reno/Sparks is going to include some combination of more traffic, more pollution and higher taxes to help pay for all the growth. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has lived here and has seen traffic in certain areas increase seemingly exponentially in the last few years. But serves as a sobering wake-up call for all of us who live here that this future is not far away at all.

In any case, I encourage everybody who cares the slightest bit about the area to visit to learn about what is being considered. Hats off to the RTC for seeking public participation.

We’ve made a few changes to the paper that I want to highlight briefly.

First, Adrienne Rice has taken over the reins as the theater reviewer from Ellen Drewes. Thanks to Ellen for the great job she did; she’ll be helping out in other areas of the paper now. Second, I have taken over the 15 Minutes section in an effort to liven it up a little. You’ll notice that the interviews now have more of a humorous, weird feel to them.

Third, News Bytes has been replaced by View From the Fray, a weekly news/opinion column by our news editor, Deidre Pike. And finally, we’d like to officially welcome former RN&R intern Carli Cutchin aboard as our editorial assistant; she’ll be primarily responsible for calendar and nightclub grid listings.