If Jacob Snow is going to talk the talk, he had better walk the walk, or at the very least ride the bus.
His words, not mine.
For years, Snow has encouraged Las Vegas Valley residents to abandon their vehicles and use public transportation and walk or ride their bicycles.
“If I’m not going to take the transit service in this community, then I shouldn’t have the job,” said Snow, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission.
For years, he visited places like Portland, Ore., and cherished the evening walks through a lively downtown. Upon his return to Las Vegas, he would ask why that environment couldn’t be created in the valley’s communities.
“I would think, ‘Why can’t we have this in Las Vegas?’ ” Snow said. “We can have that. What they need is the people, somebody to be the pioneer, somebody to show it can be done.”
And so now that he is done talking, he will soon begin walking — to the nearest bus stop.
Snow is uprooting his family from the suburbs of Henderson and replanting them on Water Street, a once-seedy street previously occupied by bail bonds businesses and smoke shops in an area once teasingly referred to as Hendertucky.
By Christmas he plans to live in a mixed-use townhouse where his wife, a photographer and life coach, will have a studio on the ground level and the family will live above. Snow and his 14-year-old son will catch the Boulder Highway Express bus line to Las Vegas for work and school.
Snow’s initial intention was to buy a loft at the Juhl Condominiums in downtown Las Vegas, just a block from the Transportation Commission’s new Bonneville Transit Center. After a shift in ownership put the kibosh on the purchase, Snow began looking elsewhere.
The combination of an improved transit system and redevelopment efforts in downtown areas across the valley have allowed a vision long held by Snow to come into focus. Both Las Vegas and Henderson are going forward with “complete street” programs, which include wider sidewalks with landscaping and decorative lighting, bike lanes and transit lines.
“I want to live in a neighborhood that by design has less automobiles,” Snow said.
The suburbs that many Las Vegas residents have become accustomed to living in are typically walled in, leaving little choice but to drive to schools that are only a quarter-mile away. Neighbors rarely get to know one another.
“I’d rather be a part of a different neighborhood,” Snow said.
In the short time Snow has visited the site of his new townhouse, he has already become well-acquainted with his new neighbors.
“I have felt that Las Vegas, compared to other places, lacks a sense of community,” Snow said. “I wanted to live in an area where we could interact with other people, where there was a street presence.”
In the evenings, he envisions himself walking to restaurants or riding his bike to the gym. In the morning, he will walk to the bus stop and catch the Boulder Highway Express, the new service that will begin operating this summer.
The line will briefly cut away from Boulder Highway and onto Water Street in downtown Henderson. That decision, Snow assured me, was made long before he opted to go hunting for a downtown dwelling. A reliable public transportation system is key to luring people into urban areas, he said.
He stands by elected officials’ decision to make the transit system a bus line rather than light rail. Studies have shown that since Snow’s agency introduced express lines, new passengers share the same demographic background as light-rail commuters.
“We see people parking their cars to take the bus,” he said. “For so many years, people said that would never happen in Las Vegas.”
Now he wants them to join him downtown.
“We have some of the elements (for a lively downtown environment). Now we need to support those things,” Snow said. “We need density and people to get to that real tipping point.”
Snow is clearly continuing to do the talking, but you have to give him credit for also doing the walking.
If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to email@example.com. Include your phone number.Through at least June 24, southbound Decatur Boulevard will be reduced to one lane from Edna Avenue to Sirius/Palmyra avenues. Northbound traffic will be reduced to two lanes on that same stretch.
Beginning at 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday, Gowan Road will be closed in both directions between Rainbow Boulevard and Tenaya Way while sound walls above Gowan are removed.
Monday through Friday, the westbound Lake Mead Boulevard off-ramp from U.S. Highway 95 will be closed.
The off-ramp from Interstate 15 south to Blue Diamond Road has been converted to a single access lane in both directions.
From 9 p.m. today until 5 a.m. Monday, the ramp from Blue Diamond Road to I-15 north will be closed. The ramp from I-15 south to Blue Diamond Road also will be closed during those hours.
From 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday, the ramp from northbound I-15 to westbound Interstate 215 will be closed.
For the next three months, expect delays on Lone Mountain Road between Decatur Boulevard and Los Prados Drive as a new storm drain is installed.
For the next three weeks, Rainbow Boulevard between Gowan Road and Red Coach Avenue will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Improvements to Rainbow should be complete by April.
Until early 2012, one lane in each direction on Sahara Avenue between Hualapai Way and Durango Drive will be closed. Construction hours are weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Intersection work will be done between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. One lane in each direction will be closed on Sahara between Boulder Highway and Las Vegas Boulevard.
For the next two months, the ramp from northbound I-15 to Frank Sinatra Drive will be closed.
For the next several months, the left travel lanes in each direction of Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara and Russell Road will be closed between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. weekdays. Two travel lanes in each direction will remain open. Crews are working to improve traffic signals.
• Two lanes on Las Vegas Boulevard from Sahara to Circus Circus Drive will be closed between 2 and 10 a.m. weekdays. One lane southbound will remain open to traffic in the area.
• The inside lanes of Rampart Boulevard, in both directions, will be closed in short stretches for the next four or five weeks as Las Vegas starts a median island beautification project between Lake Mead Boulevard and Cheyenne Avenue.
• Eastbound Las Vegas Beltway will be closed at North Fifth Street for the next six months.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL