Forest Service, city look for way around site |

Forest Service, city look for way around site

Amanda Hammon

U.S. Forest Service property at Stewart and Carson streets, with its tall trees and wetlands, is a “visual oasis” in the midst of the bustling capital.

It was built on the site of a former ranch, four trees on the site hold state records for size and Forest Service officials argue a house on the site may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

All that could change if Carson City goes through with a plan to punch Stewart Street through the north end of the property.

The Carson City Regional Transportation Commission meeting will discuss the plan Wednesday during its meeting that begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Community Center’s Sierra Room at 851 E. William St.

The Forest Service has contested Carson City’s proposal, partly because of the site’s scenic and historical significance. Forest Service officials also have argued the Stewart extension would force them to abandon the site.

However, District Ranger Gary Schiff said Wednesday the federal agency has toned down its opposition, opting instead to work with the city.

“The way we were looking at it it was like, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to look at relocating to a different site,'” Schiff said. “That’s not something we’d prefer to look at. It’s not something Carson City residents would have us look at either. We’d like to stay on our site because it best serves the residents of Carson City.

“We’re hoping to work with the Regional Transportation Commission to get a better alignment that skirts our property and then come up with a way to compensate for the loss of Forest Service parking. There’s a way to make this work.”

The Stewart Street extension is being considered as part of a widening project on Curry Street. Plans call for Curry to be expanded to allow two travel lanes and one turn lane. The $2 million project is slated to be completed in 2003 or 2004. Carson City transportation officials argue the extension would offer northbound Curry Street traffic an exit to Carson Street before traffic continued to Tenth or Fifth streets.

However, the Nevada Department of Transportation is still proposing to restripe South Carson Street to six lanes. Transportation officials in August raised the restriping idea in the midst of concerns over the completion of the Carson City freeway, and state officials argued adding lanes would be a quick and cheap way to improve traffic circulation in South Carson until the freeway is completed.

With six lanes on Carson Street, the need for the Curry Street expansion, and therefore the Stewart Street expansion, may be diminished, said John Flansberg, Carson street operations manager.

“We still feel the South Curry Street project is important because of the amount of development we expect to see in that area in the near future,” he said. “We’re not looking to add capacity to South Curry. We’re just going to widen it, make it safer and add bicycle lanes.

“Six lanes on Carson Street could do one of two things. On one hand, with six lanes you have better service and can expect to see less traffic.” That would lessen the need for the Curry Street expansion.

However, with no bike lanes on South Carson Street, it would become more important to improve Curry Street and add bike lanes there, he said.

The state plans to add a third southbound lane from Fairview Drive to Highway 50 East and an extra northbound lane from the Highway 50 interchange to Stewart Street as part of this summer’s planned repaving of South Carson Street. No extra space will be added to the highway with the expansion to six lanes, and the extra lanes would take over the shoulder of the road.

That means a bicycle route on South Carson will have to be moved, probably to Roop Street and Silver Sage Drive. The shoulder, which many people use to slow down in before entering a business, would be gone.

Randy Dietz, chairman of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce’s transportation forum, said many owners continue to be concerned about how customers will get in and out of their businesses.

He doesn’t expect those concerns to stop the project, even though some owners remain skeptical of the benefit of the six-lane proposal.

The city’s Regional Transportation Commission will discuss both the Stewart Street expansion and the South Carson Street restriping plan during its Valentine’s Day meeting.

Supervisor Jon Plank, RTC chairman, said the two issues are closely related.

“There’s a good potential all of it will work to relieve the congestion problems we’re having in South Carson City,” Plank said.

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