Bay-to-Lake Tahoe study: Tourism traffic high within basin |

Bay-to-Lake Tahoe study: Tourism traffic high within basin

A view of I-80 west at the end of 2012's Labor Day weekend shows how heavily traveled local roadways are by visitors.
Margaret Moran / | Sierra Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Transportation officials are nearly finished with a Lake Tahoe and San Francisco Bay Area travel report that aims to provide better data for future local investments.

From June 26, 2013, to July 12, 2013, data was collected using sensors along Interstate 80, U.S. 50 and state highways 20, 49, 88, 89, 193 and 267, distinguishing commuter traffic from tourist traffic.

Findings in the “Bay to Tahoe Basin Recreation and Tourism Rural Roadway Impact Study” included that tourism traffic peaks on weekends, and tourism travel accounts for 50 percent or more of traffic in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“We all kind of assumed that and know that living in this area, but now we have those hard numbers to show that,” Woody Deloria, senior transportation planner for El Dorado County Transportation Commission, said at a July 3 Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association meeting.

In addition, automated calls and interviews were conducted in Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose to learn why people travel to Lake Tahoe, when and how frequently, what roads they take, and opinions on roadways and transit.

Respondents stated they mostly travel to the basin during non-winter months (May-October) and visit between once and multiple times a year, with roadway conditions, traffic flow, ease of access, availability of public transit and parking influencing their likelihood of visiting a destination.

“There are all sorts of ways we can look at this and use this information in the future — from making transportation planning decisions, but also for marketing and economic development in the area, as well,” Deloria said.

“… Another potential with this study really is to change how the funding is allocated to your jurisdiction. Typically, historically, it’s been funded through resident population and lane miles, and … when 50 percent of the traffic is tourism-based, that formula really isn’t equitable for the region.”

A $243,000 Caltrans Partnership Planning grant and $60,000 in matching local funds financed the study, Deloria said.

A final draft is being completed and is scheduled to be presented to EDCTC at its Aug. 7 meeting; it will be linked to the agenda, to be posted at

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