Lake Tahoe transportation plan eyes 2016 rollout | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe transportation plan eyes 2016 rollout

Jack Barnwell
jbarnwell@tahoedailytribune.com

Last week, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency board members heard the highlights for an updated transportation management plan for the Tahoe basin.

TRPA Principal Planner Karen Fink provided the governing board with an update on the plan's first stages, set to be rolled out in 2016.

Fink said the transportation plan has been a critical part of the TRPA overall general plan. The last update was approved in 2012.

"Transportation is one of the key ways we can transform our communities," Fink said at the June 25 meeting in Stateline, adding that the plan's primary goal was to adapt transportation to the emerging needs of the community.

For the Lake Tahoe Basin, and the South Shore in particular, that means breaking away from a gaming-oriented economy to one supported by outdoor recreation and development of active streetscapes that encourage people to bicycle or walk.

Another component includes the potential for local community investment and conditions for private organizations to invest in transportation.

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"That will help us get to the redevelopment that will lead to the benefit of the communities that we have identified to affect quality of life," Fink said.

Fink added past benefits have included five years of road projects by Caltrans and Nevada Department of Transportation that have helped reduce some sediment generated by cars heading into the lake, as well as the creation of road shoulders and bike paths.

Fink told the board that meeting transportation goals also contribute to a vibrant economy.

"In one way they really attract private investment," Fink said. "Investors like to support businesses in areas where there are lots of people."

Other benefits include creation of beautiful areas where people can enjoy a walk or bike ride.

TRPA will be working with local jurisdictions like the city of South Lake Tahoe and various North Shore groups to make sure the regional transportation plan syncs with local area plans.

Fink said the plan would also be used a blueprint for completing a governing board-directed bike trail network around Lake Tahoe and improved public transit information.

That includes real-time message boards with details of bus schedules and delays and creating new interregional routes.

Reaching out to car-sharing programs, such as Uber and Lyft might also be incorporated into the next regional transportation plan.

"For rural areas it has potential to make the last-mile connection to transit," Fink said.

Governing board chair Casey Beyer noted the importance of car-sharing programs.

"They are very active in a lot of communities in California and the country," Beyer said. "The idea is to bring in alternative transportation to increase mobility without putting more cars on the road."

Laurel Ames of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club has interest in the transportation plan from a parking standpoint.

"Parking is a big issue for transportation planning because every time you provide a parking space, you have just taken away a transit rider," Ames said at the June 25 meeting.

She added a lot of the Tahoe Basin is oversaturated with parking.

"Parking lots aren't scenic and yet we put them in front of businesses along highways," Ames said. "They don't add anything to the community."

Fink said the timeline will include scenario developments during the summer, and public outreach from the fall 2015 through summer 2016. While TRPA will conduct traditional outreach workshops, Fink said other methods will include coordinating with local agencies, online surveys and booths at different events.

A public comment period would occur in the fall of 2016, with a final draft prepared by winter 2016.