For light rail to work, we must work together

As the Southern Nevada economy continues to grow and diversify, our community is confronted with questions regarding the infrastructure investments we must make to support such economic development.

As a part of this process, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada has been conducting an audit of peer cities, including Phoenix and Salt Lake City, that have invested in transportation projects as an engine for growth.

On March 7 and 8, RTC officials continued this exploratory process by partnering with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to host nearly 50 community leaders and decision-makers in Denver. The Nevada delegation took a closer look at how Denver’s light rail and mass transit systems were conceived, funded and built — and how they now are setting records in the Mountain West. The trip included tours and panel discussions about how funding can be procured through public and private sources and what economic development results from investing in a city’s transportation infrastructure.

One takeaway from every panel was that if Nevada wants an effective transportation plan for Southern Nevada, we must work together.

Collaboration starts by listening to the community. As Denver officials sought to invest in the development of historic Union Station, transforming it from an outpost for Amtrak into a vibrant community meeting place, boutique hotel and multimodal transportation center, they started by hosting community meetings. The conversations were crucial catalysts to ensuring that all of Denver was included in making the decision to invest in light rail and commuter rail infrastructure.

Collaboration is an expectation when it comes to funding, both private and public. In the shifting federal environment, decisions about which large-scale transportation projects to fund increasingly hinge on common vision.

The same holds true for private investment. Chad McWhinney, a Denver-based real estate developer, discussed his company’s decision to invest in the redevelopment of Union Station. “The synergy, energy and alignment from the public and private sectors were very compelling,” McWhinney said, adding that he decided to join the partnership as a private investor. the day the opportunity was presented

Collaboration from the public and private sectors will be necessary to make new transportation infrastructure a reality in Southern Nevada. We look forward to seeing how leaders and stakeholders here move forward.

Rebecca Miltenberger is a shareholder, Alisa Nave-Worth is senior policy advisor and counsel, and Kandis McClure is policy advisor at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.