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Road, flood project issues make for busy City Council meeting today
by Sarah Cooper
Oct 12, 2009 | 551 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A full agenda has prompted the Sparks City Council to move its regularly scheduled meeting up by an hour today. It will start at 2 p.m., an hour earlier than usual.

The meeting will kick off with a presentation on road issues from Lee Gibson, the newest executive director of the Regional Transportation Commission. Gibson’s presentation will not be the last time the council will address road issues at the meeting.

Planned work for the intersection of Pyramid Highway and McCarran Boulevard is on the council’s radar today, as well. The council could pass a resolution asking for acceleration of the project, which is meant to clear up congestion in the area. According to the resolution, the council could ask to remove all federal funding from the project, hence removing some federal red tape that could slow it down. The resolution asks that the project be funded using only RTC fuel tax proceeds and making it an RTC project. The roads are owned and maintained by the Nevada Department of Transportation.

According to reports prepared for the meeting, more than $1.5 million has been spent on environmental impact studies for the project. These studies and reports are mandatory in order to receive federal funding. About $5.5 million has been set aside to fund the environmental studies.

According to RTC officials, project improvements will include a right turn lane on southbound Pyramid Highway turning onto McCarran Boulevard.

While that item aims to calm traffic in a congested area of town, item 6.2 on the agenda takes aim at the structure of a project meant to calm flooding in the industrial areas of Sparks.

The council will consider the merits of forming a joint powers authority for the Truckee River Flood Project. The $1.6 billion project is the largest locally sponsored public works project in northern Nevada and is meant to alleviate the pains of potential annual flooding that hurts industrial businesses. However, the project is still short $200 million in funding. Forming a joint powers authority would give the project the ability to levy fees to raise that money. The other funding for the project comes from federal sources and existing local taxes.

The staff report prepared for the council also states that the federal funding for the project may be in danger.

“It is worthy to note that the corps (Army Corps of Engineers) has recently stated that their schedule for a fall 2010 federal approval and authorization is in jeopardy, as is the expectation of us receiving our expected federal match,” the report states. “This could significantly increase the local share of the project and may dictate that we scale it back into a more affordable project.”

The council will also be asked today for their approval of a marketing plan for Sparks.

The plan was originally introduced in February and aimed to make Sparks, “The Festival City.” That proposal, along with several others, have been stricken from the final plan. Now, the effort to market Sparks both locally and regionally aims to paint the city as the place where, “It’s happening here.”

Recommendations originally planned for Sparks’ marketing included renaming the Sparks Marina “Celebration Lake Park” and Victorian Square as “Festival Place.” Another recommendation was to merge the area’s chambers of commerce.

None of these recommendations made it to the final draft that will be presented today by the city’s Brand Leadership Team.
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