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RTC studying potential routes between Spanish Springs and Lemmon Valley


The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County on Friday heard about plans to build a connector road between Lemmon Valley and Spanish Springs to help improve regional traffic flow, although if approved, construction would be 7 to 20 years in the future.

One potential alignment is from Eagle Canyon Drive to Lemmon Drive in the vicinity of Chickadee Drive. A possible alternative connection via Sha Neva Road to Lemmon Drive is also being considered.

The other prospect is from Lazy 5 Parkway to Lemmon Drive via Deodar Way with a possible alternative connection to Lemmon Drive by way of the northerly Chickadee Drive route.

The purpose and need arose from the North Valleys Multimodal Transportation Study completed by RTC in February 2017. North Valleys residents expressed a desire for a direct connection between Lemmon Valley and Spanish Springs as both communities have been experiencing significant growth in housing and employment.

Bill Thomas

“As the community develops, we need to have a plan because a lot of the opportunities to get out of or connect to Spanish Springs—the doors are kind of closing behind us,” RTC executive director Bill Thomas told board members. “So I could see this more as a forward planning decision. If we don’t have a plan for a route from a connectivity standpoint, likely at some point in the future—and it may be 15 years out—we won’t have very many options.”

Thomas said it’s “not a project in the next 5 years where money is actually spent.” RTC began gathering traffic operations data before the pandemic. Potential impacts to wildlife species, environmental justice considerations, wetland avoidance, park and recreation areas, and land ownership will be studied.

Should a feasible alignment be identified, RTC said potential funding resources will be evaluated at a later date.

Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung questioned whether RTC would be able to get monetary participation from the Bureau of Indian Affairs if building a road across tribal land. He also cautioned that one proposed route appears to go through Stormy Canyon which pushes “a ton of water into the valley off the hills.” He said the Pyramid Highway needs improvement as well, even before a connector further impacts traffic.

“If we decide to take the more northerly route, which is the Sha Neva Road route, we’re going to have to widen Pyramid Highway,” Hartung said. “There’s a huge section of Pyramid Highway that would have to be widened from essentially Egyptian (Drive) and Sunset Springs (Lane) and north of the existing intersection of Calle de la Plata and Pyramid. There are a bunch of issues out there that have to be addressed.”

Such questions, along with the ripple effects of the new road, would need to be addressed in studies and during future public meetings, RTC staff said.

“I know we’re looking at this from the 30,000-foot, or maybe 50,000-foot level, but we have a bunch of things on the forefront that really need to be addressed now,” Hartung said.

RTC also plans on widening Eagle Canyon Road from two to four lanes between Pyramid Way and West Calle de la Plata. RTC estimated that would cost about $14 million, with $4 million of that for propagating the existing drainage ways with some impacts to properties. Sound walls weren’t configured in the cost.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct several comments from Vaughn Hartung.

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.