October 2018 Newsletter

Tactical urbanism coming to Southern Nevada

Temporary design projects aimed at improving walkability to be implemented at intersections across the valley

The view of Chicago’s Lincoln-Wellington-Southport intersection as part of the “Lincoln Hub”
traffic calming and placemaking project, as seen from St. Alphonsus Church. Photo by: The Architect’s Newspaper

Tactical urbanism: a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighborhoods and city gathering places.

A handful of intersections across Southern Nevada may soon be getting flashy makeovers.

As part of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s (RTC) “Pedestrian Comfort Study,” six demonstration sites will be treated with temporary design elements this winter to field test innovative ideas for improving pedestrian comfort and safety.

The temporary features may include high visibility crosswalks, shade structures, curb extensions, bollards, and pedestrian refuge islands.

Each of the region’s six jurisdictions will be testing and implementing their own unique interventions at a specific intersection. Site locations, which are subject to change, include:

  • Boulder City Nevada Way, Ash Street, and Wyoming Street
  • Clark County (unincorporated) – Cambridge Street and Katie Ave.
  • Henderson To be determined
  • Las Vegas Washington Ave. and J Street
  • Mesquite Woodbury Lane and Burns Lane
  • North Las Vegas El Campo Grande Ave. and Lawrence Street

After the demonstration projects are implemented, community members will be invited to the sites to interact with the new designs and evaluate their level of comfort. The community’s experience with the new designs will help planners better understand their potential for improving walkability in the region.

The “Pedestrian Comfort Study” launched in the spring to identify innovative strategies to address the challenges pedestrians face. A final report is expected to be released next spring.

The demonstration projects and study further address the goals and strategies in the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan that aim to improve walkability and pedestrian safety in the valley.

To learn more about the study, or to receive alerts on when the sites will be activated, visit www.rtcsnv.com/pedcomfort.


Main Street is lit

Redesigned Main Street features new lighting, pedestrian amenities in 18b Arts District

Main Street in downtown Las Vegas following completion of roadway project. Photo by: 8 News Now

After nearly two years of construction, the Main Street beautification project in the 18b Arts District was completed in early September. As part of the project, aging infrastructure was replaced and upgraded with Complete Street design treatments that enhance walkability and bikeability along the corridor.

The most noticeable improvements included adding approximately three miles of green-stripped bike lanes, doubling the widths of sidewalk from 5 feet to 10 feet along most of the corridor, and upgrading street lighting. High-visibility crosswalks and curb extensions were added to make street crossings safer as well.

As part of the project, Main Street and Commerce Street – which run parallel to each other – were converted to a one-way couplet south of Bonneville to improve traffic flow.

Additional enhancements included:

  • New trees and landscaping
  • ADA improvements
  • Improved street parking
  • Utility relocation
  • Installation of a new storm drain system

These improvements can lead to increased pedestrian activity along the corridor and continue to spur business development in the arts district.

The City of Las Vegas celebrated the completion of the beautification project with an evening block party on September 6 that featured free food and drinks, live music, and sidewalk vending for Main Street businesses in front of their shops.

The event kicked off with an unveiling and dedication of a new downtown sculpture, Radial Symmetry, at the north end of the Main-Commerce couplet. And shortly after dusk, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilman Bob Coffin “switched on” the new festoon lighting above Main Street just south of Charleston.

The $52 million project was funded by the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), the City of Las Vegas, and fuel revenue indexing (FRI) tax dollars.

The Main Street improvements help further several Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan goals and objectives, including increasing transportation choice by enhancing bike and pedestrian facilities, and strengthening existing neighborhood through placemaking improvements.


MGM partners with NSHE to offer free online education, access to Nevada colleges for all MGM employees nationwide

 MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren speaks about the
College Opportunity Program at UNLV. Photo by Eduardo Rossal

Employees at MGM Resorts International will soon be able to pursue a college degree for free.

MGM and the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) announced a partnership in September that will offer all of MGM’s nearly 72,000 employees nationwide free online education at any of NSHE’s seven degree-granting institutions.

The MGM College Opportunity Program, which is expected to begin in the fall of 2019, marks the first time a Fortune 500 company has partnered with a system of higher education.

Through the program, MGM aims to provide viable and affordable high quality educational opportunities to its employees, as well as attract and retain talented employees.

In a news release, MGM CEO Jim Murren said the program offers an opportunity for economic advancement and stability:

“As the American workforce continues to evolve, I believe in higher education as a pathway to the middle class. MGM Resorts is committed to expanding those pathways and investing in its employees and communities in which we operate. We are focused on reducing the financial burden on our employees while increasing access to professional growth opportunities.”

To qualify for the program, employees must enroll and be accepted into a certificate or degree program, and pursue a degree or certificate at higher levels than they already have.

MGM will also require a minimum employment period, both before and after earning their degree.

In addition to the new College Opportunity Program, MGM announced plans to increase its existing tuition assistance benefit and launch a new student loan repayment plan.

With more than 54,000 employees in Nevada, MGM is the state’s largest employer.

Increasing and enhancing collaboration between the private sector and our education system is at the core of several strategies in the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan aimed at improving economic competitiveness and education in the region.


Mobile salad bar program promotes healthy food in local elementary schools

Students at Robert Lunt Elementary School partaking in the mobile salad bar. Photo by SNHD

Students at Robert Lunt Elementary School in Las Vegas can’t wait for lunch on November 15.

It’s not pizza day.

Nachos aren’t on the menu either.

And there aren’t any special celebrity guests making a surprise visit.

It’s salad that the students are excited about.

Once a month, one of Clark County School District’s (CCSD) mobile salad bars makes its way to Lunt’s lunchroom stocked with fresh produce and salad toppings.

“The kids absolutely love it,” said Lisa Drakulich, Lunt’s principal. “They truly look forward to it every month.”

The mobile salad bar program was introduced at CCSD in the mid-1990s, according to CCSD Food Service staff, to increase access to fresh food for children. Over the decades, the program received varying levels of participation from local schools.

But prior to the school year, in an effort to boost participation, CCSD partnered with the Southern Nevada Health District’s (SNHD) Office of Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion to better promote the program throughout the community.

The collaboration paid off.

This school year, 64 elementary schools are expected to participate, more than four times the number that participated last school year. Additionally, approximately a dozen schools have requested the salad bar on a monthly basis.

“Our goal this year was to make fresh produce more accessible to students and expanding salad bar participation has really helped with that,” said Christina Saheb, a CCSD food service coordinator. “It’s really exciting to expose kids to fruits and vegetables that some may have never tried before.”

While Food Service and SNHD are excited by the uptick, they’re eager to get more schools to participate. Staff are continuously promoting the program and educating administrators and teachers on how to successfully implement it.

“Lunt is a great example,” said Saheb. “They do a great job of prioritizing healthy eating and working wellness and nutrition into the classroom experience.

In addition to the salad bar, students at Lunt are exposed to healthy habits through their school garden, monthly Wellness Days, a fruits and veggies program, and running and walking clubs.

Increasing access to healthy food options, promoting wellness programs, and working to reduce childhood obesity are priorities in the SNS regional plan.

CCSD Food Service is exploring options for including permanent salad bars in elementary schools. Nearly all middle and high schools in the district have permanent salad bars in their lunchrooms, but because most elementary schools don’t have designated cafeterias – lunch is generally served in a room used for multiple purposes – installing a permanent salad bar is tricky.

CCSD’s 18 mobile salad bars were purchased with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

For elementary schools, mobile salad bars are available on a rotating basis by request. Learn how to request a salad bar for your child’s elementary school here.

The rotating salad bar is just one of the resources, programs, and initiatives undertaken to promote and implement CCSD’s Wellness Policy. Learn more about school wellness by visiting SNHD’s Healthy School Environment webpage.


News Beyond the Valley

Here are a handful of stories that have caught our attention. Each article highlights how innovative, forward-thinking regional planning, policies, and initiatives can have tangible community impacts.

Twin Cities offer lessons on preserving housing affordability along light rail lines More than 3,500 affordable housing units have either been newly built or preserved along the Minneapolis and Saint Paul light rail route by a dizzying array of organizations.

Sacramento is making urban agriculture a way of life California’s capital city has become the nation’s farm-to-fork capital, and in the process is making food more accessible, equitable, and just.

Behold San Francisco’s $2 Billion Bus Station The Salesforce Transit Center, San Francisco’s new bus and (someday) high-speed rail terminal, has been billed as the Grand Central Station of the West. But it may also become the Bay Area’s answer to the High Line.

Parking has eaten American cities A new study documents the huge amount of space taken up by parking and the astronomical costs it represents in five U.S. cities.

Food Forest Movement Finds Fertile Ground in the Midwest As others are doing in Seattle and Philadelphia, the small city of Davenport is addressing local food insecurity with a regenerative, seven-layer garden, known as a “food forest.”