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.
The main components of the project include:
RAPID Transit Extension from UNR to downtown Reno
- Additional BRT stations
- Pedestrian Improvements
- UNR Gateway feature
Multimodal Improvements in Midtown
- Pedestrian improvements to meet ADA standards
- Utility relocation
- Incorporation of historical and cultural characteristics of Midtown
- BRT Stop improvements
Purpose and Need
Virginia Street is the historic north‐south spine of the Reno/Sparks metropolitan region. It provides primary access to Downtown Reno, the University, the Midtown District, the Reno‐Sparks Convention Center (Convention Center), major resorts, and regional shopping centers. Midtown is a thriving local business district that emerged during the economic recession. Small locally‐owned businesses have grown in this area, which is known as a center of innovation. The University is home to over 20,000 students, faculty, and staff and is one of the largest economic generators in the metropolitan area. However, the corridor faces significant deficiencies in the pedestrian realm. A roadway widening in the 1960s reduced sidewalks to 18 inches in some areas of Midtown, while leaving light posts and power poles as obstruction in the path of travel. I‐80 was constructed in the 1970s and formed a barrier between Downtown Reno and the University. A poor pedestrian environment and lack of transit options continues to discourage walking between these two major activity centers.
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County proposes, in cooperation with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), City of Reno, University of Nevada-Reno (UNR), and Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), to implement additional bus rapid transit (BRT) improvements to its existing BRT service (the “RTC RAPID”) and other complete street improvements along the Virginia Street corridor. The Project will extend the RTC RAPID route by 1.8 miles from the current RTC 4th STREET STATION transfer terminal in Downtown Reno to UNR (near the intersection of 15th Street and North Virginia Street). The Project includes five new stations to serve UNR and three upgrades to existing stations in the Midtown District. Traffic signal priority, off-board fare collection, level boarding, and real-time bus arrival information at stations will be implemented to improve transit operations in the corridor. The Project includes the purchase of two low-floor clean air articulated buses. Intersection improvements, including a roundabout at Virginia Street near Lawlor Events Center, will be constructed to improve bus operations and enhance traffic operations and safety. Sidewalk and crosswalk improvements to enhance safety, walkability, and accessibility will also be implemented. The project is designed to provide access to people of all ages and abilities to transit stops and other services within the corridor. Figure 1 provides a Project location map, which illustrates the Midtown District improvements between Plumb Lane and Liberty Street and the University District improvements between Maple Street and approximately 400’ north of the 15th street intersection. The RTC has initiated an environmental review consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidelines. The FTA is the Lead Agency under NEPA.
Concurrently, the RTC is extending its RAPID service between its 4th STREET STATION and CENTENNIAL PLAZA transit terminal in Sparks. The 4th Street/Prater Way RTC RAPID will connect downtown Reno and downtown Sparks and revitalize the 4th Street and Prater Way corridor. The 4th Street/Prater Way RAPID service and Virginia Street RAPID extension are scheduled to start revenue operations in 2019.
The Virginia Street RAPID extension Project will help address many needs in the project corridor, including the following:
- Improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and automobiles
- Build connections from UNR to Downtown Reno, Midtown, and other areas in the RTC RAPID corridor
- Improve transit performance and reduce transit travel times
- Improve pedestrian facilities
- Support land use plans and economic development
- Increase multimodal travel capacity to accommodate growing population, employment, and student enrollment
For more information, please contact Doug Maloy, RTC (775) 335-1865.