RTC's 4th/Prater Lincoln Line open and running

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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) It's done. Open and running. The Regional Transportation Commission has officially opened its $58 million project in the Fourth Street-Prater Way corridor.

A lot of people had cause for celebration at the ribbon cutting.

Local officials and the Regional Transportation Commission could take a bow. Several years of planning went into this project. Its aim is right in line with the needs of our area's economic growth.

"It will really help get people to UNR, TMCC and job-training opportunities, and/or get jobs, says RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson. "Developing skilled workers helping fill a lot of jobs that are being created. This new Lincoln Line will really help us do that."

Along the street, businesses also had reason to celebrate. They'd endured two years of construction which at times created some real problems.

"The closed off my driveway for two weeks," says Mike Berry at the Reno Mattress Company.. "If they really wanted to get to me they could, but I'm sure it scared off a lot of customers for businesses along Fourth Street."

The route traces the historic link between Reno and Sparks, the old Lincoln Highway, with artwork on the buses, featuring an image of Abraham Lincoln, reinforcing that point.

Though dressed in historical images, the buses themselves--zero-emission electrically powered models--are cutting edge.

"It is a nice mix," says Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra, the bus manufacturer. "I think we're celebrating the new in terms of the new technology, but we're also the heritage of this area."

It's true. You could learn a lot of local history riding the bus along this route. Each station is decorated with lessons drawing on more than a century of Truckee Meadows history.

But here too there's modern efficiency. The buses and the bus stops are designed to speed loading and off-loading. That means faster trips.

"The less time we can spend loading and unloading passengers because it's easy for them, that saves us money and that's the big advantage to this system and technology," says Gibson.

The roadway itself has seen improvements. Lighting, landscaping, bike routes. More people-friendly. That, it's expected, will pay off in the long run for businesses along the corridor including Reno's Brewery District.

"Understandably for a lot of people they didn't feel comfortable in that area," says Will Truce, a partner in the soon-to-be-opened Black Rabbit Mead Brewery. "And so now with all the RTC has done, we're hoping that changes around."

Mike Berry agrees. "They put up lighting, new sewer in, new electrical. It looks real nice."

And Gibson sees the changes encouraging more investment in the area.

"You'll see more and more people coming into the corridor, higher levels of income and that's really what we're going to see in the long term."

The celebration continues with an introductory offer from RTC--free rides on the Lincoln Line through New Year's Day.