With more than 42 million visitors to Las Vegas annually and community leaders calling for updated transportation infrastructure for residents and tourists alike, now is the time to discuss new transportation possibilities in Southern Nevada that are necessary to support the next generation of economic development. Recently, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck partnered with the Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission to host nearly 50 community leaders and decision makers from Southern Nevada for a tour of Denver’s transit development projects and start a conversation on how Southern Nevada can achieve a modern, efficient and workable transit solution and the economic benefits from such investments.
The Nevada delegation traveled to Denver to tour the city’s current transportation options, take a sneak peek at future innovative development projects, and participate in discussions with key leaders from Denver’s public and private sectors. The ultimate goal was to provide the group with a working snapshot of a model investment in smart transit options.
Through panel discussions on public/private partnerships and alternative funding mechanisms, to on-site tours of development projects at various stages of completion, the Nevada delegation was exposed to the financing, real estate, political and legislative subject matter experts who brought many of Denver’s transit and redevelopment projects to fruition. These insights, including successes as well as missteps, showed the Nevada delegation how one city took the need for smart transit options from conception to completion and the development that continues to grow as a result of such investments in transportation.
Denver International Airport (DIA) has long been considered a far-off outpost ever since plans for its location and construction were first announced. Before the light rail and commuter rail systems that are being built now, it was cumbersome for those downtown to access the airport. Denver’s city leaders listened to concerns, committed to work together and applied for federal grants to help fund commuter rail from downtown Denver to DIA. Last month, the transit center at the airport opened and commuter rail will operate to connect DIA to the heart of downtown Denver for $9.
During a panel discussion with experts from the public and private sectors, they narrowed in on the greatest benefit to support investments in transit systems: the increased economic development that comes with improved infrastructure. Some of these projects have already come to fruition and others are in various stages of construction, planning and development. A significant example of this type of economic growth is the development at the new commuter rail station located at 61st and Pena Boulevard, Pena Station NEXT. Included in this “smart city” is the new home of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company (Panasonic), which, according to Jarrett Wendt, vice president strategic initiatives at Panasonic, decided to relocate this division of Panasonic North America to Denver because of the development opportunities that accompanied the infrastructure improvements in the area. Mr. Wendt stated that companies like Panasonic highly prioritize a region’s commitment to smart transportation solutions when considering a new home for its employees.
After experiencing firsthand how cities like Denver are able to fund and plan their transportation investments, it’s exciting to see how Southern Nevada will continue the conversation around smart transit infrastructure like light rail and commuter rail.
Rebecca Miltenberger is shareholder and Alisa Nave-Worth is senior policy advisor and counsel with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.