Feedback sought for SR89 management plan
Special to the Sierra Sun
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Tahoe Regional Plan Agency has begun work on a potential plan for State Route 89.
The SR89 Recreation Corridor Management Plan outlines projects needed to improve the visitor experience, reduce traffic congestion and preserve the environment from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoma, including Emerald Bay.
“We’re looking at transit and shuttle services, real-time travel information, infrastructure improvements, active transportation including the Tahoe trail which is the envisioned shared-use trail that will go all the way ahead the lake, and then parking management,” said TRPA Sustainability Program Coordinator Devin Middlebrook.
Sites in that corridor are visited by more than 1.7 million people annually, with only one parking spot for every 813 vehicles.
While Emerald Bay is one of the most popular places visited at Lake Tahoe, the corridor offers many different activities.
“It’s a very unique corridor because there are so many diverse recreation uses,” Middlebrook said. “You have people going to the beach at Camp Rich, you have Pope Beach, you have horseback riding, rock climbing … backcountry skiing is huge on the West Shore.”
The land on that corridor, mustly public land, is managed by several different agencies including several U.S. Forest Service offices.
TRPA has partnered with Tahoe Transportation District and those land managers to create a plan that can be implemented and create cohesion through all the different areas in the corridor.
“On a corridor like SR 89, when you have a land manager make decisions, whether that’s closing roads, opening trailheads, etc., it will impact other landowners up and down the corridor,” said Carl Hasty, TTD District Manager.
Hasty has pointed to the State Route 28 project that has been on-going as a success this plan can mirror.
Like SR89, SR28 crosses multiple agencies and land managers. Parking has been spread out a little more and the bike path has been popular since it opened last summer.
Hasty said the SR28 stakeholders still meet regularly to make sure everyone is on the same page and he recommends stakeholders on 89 do the same.
Bike paths currently run to Pope Beach before Emerald Bay and pick back up again at Meeks Bay and connecting those two would be difficult.
“Topographically, the geology is definitely a challenge,” Hasty said. “Some of the tight curves at Emerald Bay are tough.”
Hasty said this plan is still in its early stages and a feasibility study hasn’t been done to see if it is possible and how they would continue the bike path or find more parking.
While recreation is a major part of this project, environmental protection is also a huge part.
With the limited parking, Hasty points out how much fuel is burned while visitors drive around looking for a place to park.
On busy days, there can be up to a 30 minute delay Northbound, south of Pope Beach.
U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Engineer Mike Gabor said there is also destruction and run off from people parking on the side of the road or getting creative with where they park.
“Everything we do is about preserving the natural environment and having a great guest experience in a pristine environment,” Middlebrook said. “If you have less cars on the road, you have less parking on the shoulders in the dirt, you’re going to have less erosion going into the lake… you’re going to have less user created trails and less vegetation loss.”
The TRPA, TTD and US Forest Service are hosting open houses and webinars about the plan.
Gabor urges people to give their feedback on the project so they can make the best decisions for everyone.
Hasty said the plan is still in its early stages and wants to get started on a feasibility study right away.
“We can’t move forward without those,” Hasty said.
Open houses will be held from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10 at Camp Richardson, and from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 11 at the West Shore Cafe and online on April 2. To sign up for the webinar, visit trpa.org/SR89-webinar.
To learn more about the plan, visit http://www.trpa.org/transportation/plans-projects-and-programs/sr-89-recreation-corridor-management-plan.
Laney Griffo is a reporter with the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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