Caltrans decides not to route traffic onto Old Highway 40 |

Caltrans decides not to route traffic onto Old Highway 40

Following public outcry over a plan to divert westbound Interstate 80 traffic down Old Highway 40 this summer, Caltrans has changed its plans. Now, during the Interstate 80 improvements, westbound motorists will be detoured onto the eastbound lanes beginning in late June.

However, motorists in North Lake Tahoe can expect traffic delays for the next five months from more than a dozen other Caltrans roadwork projects around the basin.

During the May 4 meeting of the Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, Bill Knight, a civil engineer of transportation with Caltrans, presented this summer’s Tahoe Basin roadwork plans. The largest projects on the North Shore will be on Highway 28 from Tahoe City through Kings Beach, with additional work planned on the highway from Incline Village to Spooner Summit and a three-mile stretch of Interstate 80.

Knight said Caltrans’ highest priority was the work in Tahoe City, including the roadway improvements currently under way on Highway 28 in front of the Lighthouse Shopping Center.

“Things should be a lot more relaxed, no more cones, not as many detours,” said Pat Perkins, an associate civil engineer with Placer County, explaining that the underground portion of the work should be completed soon.

Perkins told the transportation management association that he hoped the entire project would be finished by the end of July.

“But, that’s very optimistic,” he said.

Knight said there would be traffic delays during the Tahoe City roadwork.

Delays are also expected on Highway 28 from Tahoe City through Kings Beach during the road construction to be done from May through October; drainage improvements have also been planned along that stretch of highway, but no delays are expected.

The work between Incline Village and Spooner Summit is expected to last from May until October and consists of erosion control. Delays are also expected during this work.

Other road construction planned for North Lake Tahoe includes rehabilitative and drainage projects along Highway 267, and utility work along Highway 89.

South Lake Tahoe will also experience summer traffic delays. Road construction is planned for Highway 89 near Camp Richardson and south of Meyers, as well as on Highway 50 south of Stateline.

Also discussed at the association’s meeting was a half-cent sales tax that voters will be asked to approve. The tax will be voted on during a special election Sept. 19. The new tax would go toward easing Tahoe’s traffic burden.

“There isn’t just one fix for our transportation problems,” said Jennifer Merchant, executive director for the association, explaining that there are a number of possible projects that the estimated $1.1 million the tax would generate each year could be spent on.

Possible traffic solutions include an increase in year-round bus service from Tahoe City to the state line, and from Squaw Valley to destinations along the West Shore during peak seasons. A half-hour night time service for the same areas is also being considered.

Increased bus service along Highway 89 and the addition of a bus route on Highway 267 are also possibilities.

A transportation service from the Reno Tahoe International Airport to North Lake Tahoe is another possible avenue for the proposed tax, as well as a water taxi service connecting the West and North Shores.

A telephone survey is currently being conducted by the association to gather input from the community on how the money raised from the proposed tax would best be spent.

“The survey is being done to make sure we’re on the right track,” Merchant said, adding that a final expenditure plan should be completed by early June.

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