The impact of federal infrastructure and lands bills affecting the region locally were among topics U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., spoke about Tuesday during his annual address to the Washoe County Commission.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee bill was recently released and Amodei said it includes the McCloud neighborhood septic sewer conversion, city park restrooms and ADA upgrades in Reno, first responder equipment for the city of Sparks, the South Arlington Avenue bridge, and hydrogen fuel cell bus project for the Regional Transportation Commission.
“We try to be pretty compliant with the guidelines and stuff and that has borne fruit once again for the Truckee Meadows because the five projects we submitted for inclusion in the bill were included in the bill,” Amodei said.
Also included was $1.8 million for the second phase of eight miles of trails in the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency jurisdiction along Nevada 28.
Commissioner Vaughn Hartung said funds for roads are disproportionately going to Southern Nevada.
“We have not seen the level of upgrades needed on Pyramid Highway to really bring it to the current standards that are required to move traffic efficiently,” Hartung said. “If you had the same volumes you had in Clark County that you have on Pyramid Highway today, it would’ve been fixed 10 years ago.”
Hartung also said federal help is also needed for upgrading capacity at wastewater treatment plants.
Amodei said infrastructure could turn into a “projects versus programs” situation. However, he noted there isn’t a final plan in place but said he’d make sure wastewater is a priority.
“If it’s going to be an infrastructure bill and if you still have water treatment issues at the end of the day, then in my mind the bill didn’t do its job,” Amodei said. “It was a trojan horse for someone else. I’m not saying that’s going to happen.”
Amodei said he and his staff will be ready for lands bill guidance that any jurisdiction in Congressional District 2 wants to submit. Last year, he said he thought it would be a good idea to do a package that included expansion of Naval Air Station Fallon for its training area and include that in one bill for all of Northern Nevada.
“We didn’t get that. It didn’t come to fruition so now quite frankly I’m thinking we’ll submit whatever each jurisdiction wants separately. If there comes an opportunity when we can combine them all, great,” Amodei said. “Waiting for this or that and trying to hurry up or whatever at the end is not a strategy I think is one that gives you a decent shot. But if it’s the wish of this commission that ‘we don’t want to go unless we can be hooked up to that,’ then we’ll accede to your request because it’s your lands bill.”
As far as increasing housing costs go, Amodei acknowledged growth and told commissioners they can’t control lumber and pipe prices but have some control over land costs because about 85% of Nevada’s land is federally owned. There could be lands bill opportunities to acquire property and to make sure at least part of it is managed to some extent because it would be for a public purpose, he said.
Commissioner Alexis Hill said the county is working with the cities of Reno and Sparks on a lands bill that includes affordable housing and conservation components.
“You will be seeing some movement on that the next few months here,” Hill told Amodei. “I’m really excited about how we’ll be bringing the region together and I’m hoping we can bring one package to you.”
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.