On March 10th, Muscle Powered attended the Carson City Regional Transportation Commission meeting to learn more about Phase 3 of the Roop Street Widening Project. This is the section of Roop Street that stretches from Washington Street to 5th Street. This phase won’t begin until after the phase that is currently under construction, Washington Street north to Beverly Drive, has been completed. Still, it is nice to know what the big picture is.

Roop Street
Roop Street Looking North

Three alternate plans were presented to the RTC that included:

  • Four 11′ lanes for auto traffic (2 northbound, 2 southbound)
  • 5′ striped bike lanes on each side of the road.
  • 5′ sidewalks on each side of the road.
  • 1′ concrete center divider curb.
  • Left Turn Pockets at selected intersections.

All three alternate plans were the same except where to build the left turn pockets. Alternate plan 3 was the most favorable with the left turn pockets at Washington, Musser, and 5th Streets. This was a compromise between making left turn pockets available at important intersections, while preserving front yards of residences near Robinson Street.
I really like the idea of left turn pockets, since they don’t waste a lot of valuable space. This is especially important when retrofitting an already existing narrow corridor like Roop Street. A small percentage of traffic actually uses turn lanes, and only occupies the space near the intersections. The rest of the turn lane is just wasted space that could go to bike lanes and sidewalks.

Roop Street
Roop Street Looking South

Right of Way Challenges
This section of Roop Street will present some challenges during reconstruction. While there are some wide sections that will make it easy for construction crews, other areas are very narrow. Right of way acquisitions for the project will intrude pretty far into some people’s yards, take out some fairly large trees, and will bring the sidewalk up very near the houses. I rode down Roop Street the day after the meeting to get a better look at the impact. Some areas wouldn’t be impacted greatly with the right of way acquisitions, businesses, parking lots, bare dirt, etc. The biggest impact was to about a half dozen houses on the east side of the road about half way down. These residents would lose much of their yards.
The project is still quite a ways off though, and much can happen before construction. Will there be enough money left in the shrinking budget to continue? Will a shrinking Carson City population justify more auto capacity? In its current condition, it’s not safe to ride a bike down this part of Roop Street during many times of the day, and there are no sidewalks on many sections. Just adding bike lanes and sidewalks, and keeping the traffic down to two lanes would be a huge improvement. This would also create less of an impact for the residents, and probably save some of the big cottonwoods that provide shade for these properties.
A good lesson I took away from this meeting is that we started a ripple effect last fall when we asked for bike lanes on Phase 2 of the Roop Street widening project. The planners knew that we would want bike lanes on Phase 3, and we didn’t even have to ask. None of us had to get up and speak during the meeting. All we had to do was nod and smile.