Kings Beach traffic calming plan released; lawsuit may challenge project | SierraSun.com

Kings Beach traffic calming plan released; lawsuit may challenge project

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunPlacer County has released a Traffic Calming Plan to slow potential traffic cutting through Kings Beach neighborhoods as part of the proposed project that would change Highway 28 to three lanes and replace two intersections with roundabouts.

Residential streets of the Kings Beach grid could see small traffic circles, narrowed sections to slow traffic, and even seasonal speed bumps as part of the Commercial Core project.

The alternative that includes roundabouts and three lanes on Highway 28 through Kings Beach was approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors in July, but in a reconsideration vote, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Board requested a detailed traffic calming plan for cut-through traffic in the town’s neighborhoods.

“We started out trying to address the future issue of cut-through traffic as the area approaches buildout, but the focus group wanted to also talk about current issues in the grid,” said Ken Grehm, director of public works for Placer County. “I think it’s a win-win for the community.”

The plan proposes to extend sidewalks into the community, with sidewalks reaching all the way across the neighborhood from south to north along Coon Street, and from east to west along Steelhead Avenue, Grehm said.

Small traffic circles would be placed at nine intersections to slow traffic, along with a number of “gateway constrictions,” which narrow the road to also slow vehicles down, he said.

In the northern part of Kings Beach, temporary speed bumps glued or bolted to the road could be put in place during the summer, Grehm said.

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“We want to make sure nobody goes really far without encountering some sort of slowing device,” Grehm said. “And perhaps they will make drivers think twice before they go there.”

However Grehm said the main emphasis is on slowing traffic through the grid, not dissuading it from entering.

“The large part of cut through traffic is not visitors ” it’s Tahoe residents so I think we’ll be more successful slowing them down,” Grehm said.

But David McClure, president of the Kings Beach Business and Citizen’s Alliance, said the goals of the plan are contradictory.

The Alliance supports the four-lane alternative with traffic lights over the three-lane proposal.

“They want to maintain cut-through volumes during peak traffic and at the same time reduce speed and disruption through the grid,” McClure said. “You can’t have it both ways.”

He said the three-lane alternative treats the grid as a bypass for Highway 28, and depends on some traffic going through the residential streets.

“We would like to see the county spend as much energy on slowing traffic down on Highway 28 as they have on the grid,” McClure said.

And as for locals versus visitors making the short cut, McClure said the effect will snowball.

“When you see people peel off to what appears to be a quicker way, other people will follow,” McClure said.

Grehm said the three-lane alternative may go back to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Board for decision in November.

This means it, if approved, it will be too late to start work next summer, so construction would likely begin in 2010.

The traffic calming measures proposed would likely add about $1 million to the project’s $46 million to $48 million price tag, Grehm said.

The Kings Beach Business and Citizen’s Alliance is planning a potential lawsuit challenging the Placer County Board of Supervisor’s decision in favor of the three-lane alternative, said President Dave McClure.

“This is the only way we can challenge the decision of the board of supervisors ” they’ve forced the issue and we intend to respond,” McClure said.

Ken Grehm, director of public works for the Placer County, said he is confident the Commercial Core plan will stand up to scrutiny.

“I feel very comfortable; we have around 5,000 pages of analysis and have disclosed all the issues, so I feel very good about it,” Grehm said.

Placer County will hold two open house meetings to share the plan ” Oct. 7 at the North Tahoe Conference Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for English, and Oct. 9 at Kings Beach Elementary School from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for Spanish.

about the Kings Beach Commercial Core project and the controversy surrounding it.