Debate Over Controversial Roadway Not Done Yet

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RENO, NV - Once called the Tahoe-Pyramid Link, the thoroughfare now known as the Southeast Connector would be a six-lane road from Sparks Boulevard to Veterans Parkway near the Mount Rose junction.

Local planners have long wanted the extra north-south highway to ease pressure on US 395 and other surface routes connecting the two halves of the Truckee Meadows.

Work is already well underway on the $65 million Phase One of the project at the north end, where what will be called the Veterans Memorial Bridge is aimed at crossing the Truckee and heading south through the University farms and Rosewood Golf Course.

Many living near its path argue the project will make future flooding in this area worse, but the lawsuit filed by the Upper South East Communities Coalition attacks the route on other issues.

"We're talking about already degraded wetlands," says coalition board member Kim Rhodemyre. "We're talking about already protected federal wetlands. We're talking about contamination from the methyl mercury in Steamboat Creek and in the watershed and the ground surrounding Steamboat Creek. And this is where they are talking about putting a six-lane road."

The coalition is arguing the project never should have been split into two phases and that an environmental impact statement for the entire 5 and a half miles is needed before any work continues.

But the RTC disputes those claims, calling them "baseless and irresponsible," adding that wetlands would be enhanced by the project and noting that over the past 6 years they've met with those concerned to listen to and address their concerns.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the RTC says it's followed proper procedures and will vigorously defend the project.

For the moment at least, the work continues and the legal battle seems poised for a new round.