Grasshopper Soup: No biomass, now no Tahoe City bypass
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; Lake Tahoe breathed a joyful, deep blue sigh of relief upon hearing the recommended news to scrap plans to build a biomass facility in Kings Beach. A week later, Tahoe waters still sing to the heavens with thanks.
In my column on July 6th, I predicted that the biomass facility would not be built. I didn’t know I was that smart. I would be honored to receive a jeweled crown or a six-figure donation in recognition of my prophetic powers. The most important issue, in my opinion, was not the biomass plant, it was about the quality of local, state and federal leadership. No one should be surprised by the outcome. The people involved in proposing and considering the biomass facility made the right decision for Lake Tahoe and we, the people. We should all be happy for the opportunity to express our deepest thanks.
One down and one to go. The next plan we need to scrap is the Tahoe City bypass road. Traffic congestion is what it is, and there is no guarantee that a Tahoe City bypass road will ease traffic backups. Most likely, the bypass route will jam up as well. Traffic and#8220;problemsand#8221; only exist on weekends and holidays in winter, and maybe two months in summer. Any mountain man or woman should be able to handle that.
Cars are not the only cause of traffic gridlock. Pedestrians themselves make a significant contribution. There are ways to fix all the and#8220;problemsand#8221; without building a bypass road, solutions that would most likely be significantly cheaper than a bypass. Make Fanny Bridge wider, and install enclosed walkways under the bridge on both sides of the river for pedestrians and bicycles. They could easily be made to accommodate high river levels. They could include an area beneath the surface of the water for viewing the Fanny Bridge trout. Tahoe City needs a year-around attraction. Kill two birds with one stone.
At first I liked the idea of closing Highway 89 between Tahoe City and Granlibakken Road, and restricting Fanny Bridge, the dam and William B. Layton Park to pedestrians and bicycles only. But the businesses in that area, and along all three approaches to the Wye, would be too adversely affected. Now I positively oppose the Tahoe City bypass altogether. Bypass routes have already spelled doom for too many California towns. Tahoe City does not deserve such an ignominious fate.
The universe does not revolve around Tahoe City, but why would anyone want to bypass such a beautiful place? Commons Beach alone is one of the best destinations in the basin. The only benefit to be gained from a bypass would go to Truckee and South Lake Tahoe.
We need to take advantage of this opportunity to see our traffic situation in an entirely new light. The fact is, traffic in Tahoe City is not really a problem at all. Traffic means money! Traffic backed up from Tahoe City to Sunnyside, Carnelian Bay, and Squaw Valley is just as beautiful, if not more so, than Emerald Bay.
Make everyday and#8220;I Love Traffic Day.and#8221; Call it and#8220;Traffic Means Beer Moneyand#8221; if that helps. Be late and be happy. Douse your anger. Let that car pull out in front of you. Look for every opportunity to stop for pedestrians, wherever they cross. Practice makes perfect.
Daily participation in and#8220;Traffic makes me lol Dayand#8221; is the best driving-while-stuck-in-traffic idea you’ll ever have. Every local should self-impose it. Make it a rule to love traffic like a paycheck. Loving traffic will eliminate the need for a bypass.
Join the growing number of locals who oppose the Tahoe City bypass road. Take a good look at what the word and#8220;bypassand#8221; really means. Put a smile on your face and contemplate how fortunate you are to be stuck in traffic, especially if you are on the job and getting paid by the hour. A positive attitude will enrich us in more ways than one.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 28 years.