Forest Service seeks feedback on Highway 28 improvements
The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit announced it is currently seeking comments in regard to a joint environmental assessment for proposed improvements to the Nevada State Route 28 corridor on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore.
The assessment, according the forest service, will analyze a proposal to improve highway safety, infrastructure, summer recreational access and scenic quality for the Nevada Stateline-to-Stateline Bike Project from Sand Harbor to Spooner Junction.
“We’re excited to release this draft plan, which continues our commitment to connect the pathways around Lake Tahoe,” said Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Supervisor Jeff Marsolais in a news release.
Improvements, according to the forest service, would include construction of approximately eight miles of shared-use path with retaining walls, slope stabilization, and railings as necessary. There would also be 12 to 20 vista points constructed along the route, which would also require four bridges to be built in order to span perennial streams. Approximately 4.64 miles of the pathway would be on forest service land, and the remainder would be on state lands.
Highway improvements proposed include 24 emergency pullouts along the corridor, signs, safety features and erosion control measures. There would also be an expansion of existing parking areas at the Secret Harbor Parking Lot and at Chimney Beach. Secret Harbor currently has 31 spaces and could see the addition of 64 to 132 spaces. Chimney Beach has 21 spaces, and could have 82 to 160 more added.
There are also plans for the construction of a new parking lot located across from Spooner Lake, which has 128 to 320 spaces proposed. The forest service indicated that during peak summer times as parking overflows from existing lots, the number of vehicles parked on the shoulder in the corridor has exceeded 1,000, creating unsafe conditions and backing traffic up. Parking outside of the proposed lots would be restricted by physical barriers and/or regulatory signage.
Improvements also include, plans of constructing a new parking facilities at Skunk Harbor, and relocation of utilities (sewer, electric, and telecommunications) including the effluent pipeline, which carries treated water out of the basin, and, according to the forest service, is aging and poses a risk of failure.
“Existing utilities in the corridor are aging or inadequate, posing long-term safety, aesthetic, and functional concerns along the corridor,” said the forest service in its draft environmental analysis. “Overhead electrical lines are aging and unsightly; they detract from the scenic quality of the byway and pose maintenance issues, as well as posing a risk of wildland fire. Additionally, telecommunication capacity in the basin is limited and there is a strong desire to expand the use of fiber optic technology on the east shore. NV Energy has requested enhancements to these utilities.”
Construction of a permanent aquatic invasive species inspection station in the corridor is also included, as well as installation of storm water mitigation features. The project would also aim to restore roughly seven miles of user-created routes to their natural state.
The announcement comes on the heels of the completion of the three-mile Tahoe East Shore Trail from Incline Village to Sand Harbor State Park as the existing bikeway system around Tahoe continues to expand in order to separate cyclists and pedestrians from traffic.
The project is in its 30-day legal comment period. Comments can be sent electronically through the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit website until Aug. 11.
The assessment was prepared to determine whether the effects of the proposal are significant enough to prepare an environmental impact statement. The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is the lead agency for the analysis.
Other agencies involved in guiding project design and preparation of the environmental assessment include Carson City, Douglas County, Incline Village General Improvement District, Nevada Department of Transportation, Nevada Division of State Lands and State Parks, Tahoe Transportation District,
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Washoe County. The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California has also been involved through sponsorship of the Nevada Stateline-to-Stateline Bikeway planning process.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.