Finding Safe Harbor: Plan to address safety issues on East Shore takes shape
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. andamp;#8212; The old K-2 elementary school property at the corner of Tahoe and Southwood boulevards will be used as the main parking lot and pick-up point for the East Shore Express, this summerandamp;#8217;s pilot shuttle service to and from the popular Sand Harbor State Park, officials announced this week.At times when visitation is high and overflow parking is needed, the project will also use the elementary school on Village Boulevard as the primary overflow lot and the old library lot on Alder Avenue as secondary overflow, Tahoe Transportation District officials said.An earlier plan to use the Diamond Peak Ski Resort parking lot was nixed following considerable opposition from residents living in the neighborhoods leading up to and surrounding the property. The new plan was unveiled Wednesday night.The pilot project is a multi-agency attempt led by TTD to address the dual issues of traffic congestion and public safety along Highway 28 near Sand Harbor, arguably Lake Tahoeandamp;#8217;s most popular beach and summer recreation area.andamp;#8220;The last thing we want is a family or a child getting hurt or killed,andamp;#8221; said Sgt. Rob Stepien of the Nevada Highway Patrol. andamp;#8220;With the shuttle, we are giving (beach goers) the option to take the shuttle bus, as opposed to risking their lives to get into Sand Harbor, which is what they do when they walk along the road. The main thing we are trying to do is deter people from walking in the highway.andamp;#8221;Law enforcement this summer will have a zero-tolerance policy toward illegally parked vehicles in no-parking and tow-away zones near the park. Additionally, Stepien said, Incline Village Judge Alan Tiras is considering raising parking violation fees. In past years, some beach goers choose to simply pay the $112 parking fine rather than find a legal space.According to information provided by TTD Project Manager Derek Kirkland, last year, more than 600 parking tickets were issued by Nevada Highway Patrol, Washoe County Sheriffandamp;#8217;s Office and Nevada State Parks along the 1.5-mile stretch of Highway 28 near Sand Harbor. During times of peak visitation, more than 150 illegally parked cars were counted.However, many of those who received tickets last year were ultimately released from their responsibility to pay the fine, Stepien said, as the signage was deemed inadequate.andamp;#8220;Thatandamp;#8217;s why the whole parking zone will be re-signed from the beginning to the end,andamp;#8221; he said. andamp;#8220;There will really be no defense.andamp;#8221;Signage will be installed this June.Not only do the illegally parked vehicles force pedestrians into the traffic lanes, they also contribute to the increased erosion and decreased visibility in Lake Tahoe. According to TTD, more than 70 percent of pollutants clouding the lake are attributed to transportation in the Tahoe Basin. andamp;#8220;Enforcement is one step,andamp;#8221; added Stepien, andamp;#8220;but itandamp;#8217;s not the only step.andamp;#8221;Transportation managers are asking those who might otherwise park illegally outside the park to use the East Shore Express, which will shuttle beach goers to Sand Harbor from the old elementary school andamp;#8212; located on the west side of Incline, at the Southwood/Northwood traffic light.Fare for the shuttle will be $3 for adults and $1.50 for children 12 and under, seniors and those with a disability. Sand Harbor State Park will wave entry fees for bus passengers, and the fares will be used to fund the shuttle system.As a further deterrent, Sand Harbor will not allow walk-in visitors this summer. Park Spokesman Jay Howard on Thursday said the decision was made in the name of public safety, but deferred further questions about the policy to a future interview.The pilot shuttle is proposed to run for the next two summers from June 15 to September 3. The shuttle service would run every 20 minutes between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., seven days a week.The buses will be BlueGo buses, according to the plan. BlueGo is the South Lake Tahoe transit service andamp;#8212; similar to TART on the North Shore andamp;#8212; operated by TTD. The buses will have seating room for about 26 people, standing room for about 25 more and storage space for coolers, lawn chairs and other beach gear.
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