Public meetings on tap to address future of Lake Tahoe transportation | SierraSun.com

Public meetings on tap to address future of Lake Tahoe transportation

Sebastian Foltz
sfoltz@tahoedailytribune.com

Downtown Kings Beach was a sea of slow-moving cars and pedestrians over Fourth of July weekend last summer, especially on July 3, as seen here above the western roundabout.

LAKE TAHOE, Nev./Calif. — In a given summer month, it's estimated residents, commuters and visitors make roughly 16 million trips in, out or around some portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin, according to data provided by the research firm AirSage.

With the Reno area continuing to grow and projected increases in visitation to Tahoe and Truckee, the region's aging highway system and underserved public transit network is of increasing concern.

It's something officials with the Tahoe Transportation District and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency are looking to address through the ongoing development of their 2016 Regional Transportation Plan.

The organizations will host two public comment open houses in the coming weeks to receive feedback on proposed changes and additional suggestions for improvements:

“Updating the plan is very important to Tahoe’s future, as well as addressing today’s needs.”Carl HastyTahoe Transportation District

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"We're looking at how to link the key corridors around the lake," TRPA transportation planner Karen Fink said, describing the focus. "We really want to hear new ideas from people about how the transportation system can best support the community's needs."

Both groups have created a basic framework for roadway, transit, bike and pedestrian improvements around Tahoe that they plan to share at the meeting, along with new findings regarding traffic flow data.

In addition to data from Caltrans and other transportation agencies, the groups contracted AirSage to study travel patterns based on anonymous wireless signaling data.

"Updating the plan is very important to Tahoe's future, as well as addressing today's needs," TTD director Carl Hasty said, adding that it will have a positive impact on both traffic concerns and the environment.

"A good transportation system really comes into play," he said. "I think what we're laying out is really having a transit system in place for visitors and residents."

Ideas under consideration include everything from increased public transit to regional destinations like Reno and the Bay Area to a cross-lake ferry system.

The project includes an over-arching 20-year plan with ideas in place for both short-term and long-term development.

Hasty said the cross-lake ferry system — currently undergoing environmental review — is among ideas that could conceivably be implemented within the next decade.

"It's as real as any project," he said. "It's instrumental to having an inter-regional transportation system."

Under the proposal, the ferry would connect South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City with links to public transit in those areas. Boats would be able to transport pedestrians and cyclists across the lake.

Among other considerations is the U.S. Highway 50 South Shore Revitalization Project. The "Loop Road" proposal is also currently undergoing environmental review with a draft expected to be released to the public some time in June.

Originally planned to be released in April, Hasty said the TTD decided to extend its public outreach campaign on behalf of the project.

"We've got a lot of misinformation out there," Hasty said. "We're taking a little more time addressing this misinformation."

The transportation network around the Tahoe Basin has a significant impact on the surrounding environment. Researchers credit 70 percent of the fine sediment affecting lake clarity to stormwater drainage from roads and developed areas.

If you go

What: Public comment meetings on 2016 Regional Transportation Plan

When: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, North Tahoe Events Center, Kings Beach.

When: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, South Lake Tahoe

Learn more: Visit linkingtahoe.com for more on the Regional Transportation Plan