My Turn: Revitalization does not equal bypass
TAHOE CITY, Calif. andamp;#8212; After attending two of the community meetings regarding the State Route 89/Fanny Bridge Community Revitalization Project, I have come to the conclusion that the name of the proposed project is very misleading and so are the statistics and data provided by the Tahoe Transportation District based on current conditions.Have you ever seen 400 cyclists and pedestrians per hour on Fanny Bridge? The andamp;#8220;communityandamp;#8221; meetings were held within the community with members of the community in attendance; however, none of the current community input provided at the meetings has been incorporated into the five alternatives.The project is being pushed through and is now in the environmental review stage. If you did not know anything about the daily activity for vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles at Fanny Bridge and read the information provided by the TTD, one would believe that we have Bay Bridge congestion on a bridge ready to fall into the river.Nowhere in the project title does the word andamp;#8220;bypassandamp;#8221; or andamp;#8220;realignmentandamp;#8221; appear. A proposed bypass or realignment around Tahoe City based on outdated information is what this project is being designed around. Tahoe City, an already struggling area, will not be revitalized by building a realignment/bypass around it.The scope of this project was established almost 10 years ago when there were traffic issues exiting on the West Shore through Tahoe City. The traffic counts as measured 10 years ago were projected out at a standard growth rate. Based on a projected steady growth that did not occur, TTD believes we still need a four-lane bridge through 64 acres bypassing the andamp;#8220;Wyeandamp;#8221; as the entrance point to the lake and Tahoe City.Ever since Caltrans changed the traffic flow at the andamp;#8220;Wyeandamp;#8221; by providing a double green arrow/double turn lanes for the West Shore traffic, while holding the traffic coming out of Savemart, the traffic back up from the West Shore has been minimal for the three or four weekends of peak demand throughout the year. The transportation goal for the basin is to reduce the amount of traffic, not to build more roads to accommodate it. By building more roads, this only encourages traffic growth.On the andamp;#8220;Safetyandamp;#8221; side, this statement can be used on any project. Increased safety does not always result from providing multiple exits in the same general area. Providing a safe exit route is more easily obtainable by law enforcement by controlling the flow of traffic from one exit point rather than by having multiple exits and roundabouts in the same area.Three out of the four alternatives currently proposed by the TTD would not allow for Fanny Bridge to be used as a viable emergency exit. During an emergency evacuation law enforcement needs to be able to control the access/exit points. By increasing the number of exit points from one to two with one additional roundabout and multiple new merge lanes will require more law enforcement designated for traffic control.An increase in merge lanes also results in traffic congestion. There is no real benefit in having a new four lane bridge and two exit points just over a quarter mile apart when 89 North to Truckee, 89 South to South Shore and 28 to Kings Beach are miles of two lane road. If providing multiple exists from the West Shore is such a concern for the TTD, then they should be working with Caltrans to provide avalanche control at Emerald Bay to keep an already existing emergency exit open all year. If there were a major event during the winter along the West Shore and Emerald Bay was closed there could be no way in or out no matter what happens at Fanny Bridge. Maybe TTD has the wrong location for their four lane bridge; maybe it should be located across the Lake at the entrance to Emerald Bay to ensure highway 89 wonandamp;#8217;t be closed for avalanche danger and always remain open.Spending millions of dollars to construct a four-lane concrete bridge through 64 acres will create an environmental eyesore with the possibly of jeopardizing our communities financial economy, when even the TTD states in its own literature that the alternatives may not bring traffic congestion to standardized acceptable levels during the summer periods when congestion is at its height,Each of the alternatives states that Fanny Bridge would be repaired or replaced. Letandamp;#8217;s leave the project scope and cost at that. Members of the community support the seismic upgrade of Fanny Bridge and leaving Fanny Bridge as two lane without the bypass or realignment of 89.TTDandamp;#8217;s requirement that they say is coming from Caltrans holds no merit. The requirement for having to widen Fanny Bridge to four lanes is not justified based on current data. If Caltrans requires widening Fanny Bridge to four lanes then how could repairing the bridge or replacing it be listed in all four alternates? Widening the existing bridge would require a property easement, which is not obtainable. Does this also mean that when all of the other bridges along the West Shore need to be seismically upgraded that they will also be widened to four lanes?Members of the community have provided some great input on how to make the Fanny Bridge area safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Providing an ADA-compliant pedestrian ramp between the existing concrete railing and the dam paralleling the road way is just one example that would eliminate the pedestrian/traffic safety concern. This would also allow the visitors to have a closer look at the fish. Traffic would also not be delayed as drivers are no longer wondering andamp;#8220;What are all of the people looking at?andamp;#8221;Please forward your comments to the Tahoe Transportation District, Attn: Alfred Knotts, by the deadline of January 30.Jim Sajdak is a Tahoe City resident.