Riding the rails

Assuming all goes according to plan, residents of the Truckee Meadows are awakening to the dawn of a new day. If you’ve been downtown in the past few days and were stopped at a train crossing, you’ve noticed the trains are riding on the new set of tracks, the shoo-fly. That signals the end of the first major phase of the trench’s construction.

It’s a momentous occasion. No matter how committed some members of this community were against the train trench, and no matter how underhanded some of the methods were for shoving the plan down the community’s throat (like the lame-duck sales tax hike and the lies that were told about the number of trains that would be coming through town), it’s time to begin the healing.

True, the time for vigilance is not over. In fact, it’s more important than ever to watch the city’s trench finances for irregularities, particularly because of the trench’s design-build plan. That’ll be incumbent upon us, other media and citizens who have an interest in good government and fiscal management.

The next year and a half, up to November 2005, is going to be a tough time for businesses, particularly those on the south side of the tracks. Reno will likely see a few more casinos go dark before the light appears at the end of the tunnel. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to support those businesses that will be further impacted by road closures, detours and delays.

It’s also going to be a difficult time for motorists, particularly those whose business frequently takes them downtown. The Reno Retrac Project, www.renoretrac.com, has done a very good job of maintaining traffic updates. Still, there will be frustrations. When the moment comes and an unconscious tourist takes a right hand turn from the inside lane, just smile and wave with the hope that in 19 months, Reno will be a better town for getting around in than it has ever been.

It’s a little early to predict, but the trench has the potential to spur a renaissance in downtown Reno gambling. Even before completion, the trench could bring curiosity seekers, both residents and tourists, to Virginia Street to see the construction. When the trench is completed, expect to see another wave of construction as some casinos build north or south over the tracks.

It’s said that people can adapt to anything, but the last few months of construction have been a real cross to bear for locals. In the most optimistic view, this week’s routing of the trains onto the shoo-fly could be the beginning of the end of the hassles downtown—fewer road obstacles, no train whistles at night, no waiting at intersections. Truly, as far as downtown goes, it’ll be like living in a different city.