Opinion: Squaw Valley needs to fund transportation solutions
June 9, 2015
As anyone who has tried to drive north on Highway 89 or in the Truckee area during a Sunday or holiday Monday snowstorm knows, traffic during these times comes to a standstill.
Even when I-80 is open, traffic backs up due to congestion on the freeway, and when 80 is closed, cars have become stranded on 89 overnight. The roads in Truckee become parking lots, and travel within the town becomes impossible.
Access for emergency vehicles is severely restricted, especially when the road shoulders are blocked by snow. In such conditions, plows can no longer operate and conditions deteriorate further. I have taken as long as five hours to drive from Squaw Valley to my home on Donner Lake in such situations, and that was with I-80 open.
During ordinary high-volume traffic times in the winter, one can anticipate similar gridlock conditions developing in the morning as traffic backs up on 89 when the Squaw parking lots fill. I have seen traffic back up all the way on to I-80 on a weekend bluebird powder morning, with Truckee roads gridlocked.
Obviously, the increased Squaw Valley traffic the Draft EIR predicts will exacerbate this already dangerous situation. If the proposed village expansion is approved, Squaw should be required to mitigate traffic impacts in two ways.
For ordinary high-volume traffic periods, it should be required to fund a regional mass transit system with waits no longer than 15 minutes. In addition, KSL should fund a dedicated bus lane on 89 between Truckee and Squaw Valley, where the road is wide enough to accommodate this, and it should purchase or lease parking lots in the Truckee area where locals and I-80 traffic can access the buses.
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I believe this mitigation is required both for maintaining an acceptable quality of life for residents of Truckee and North Tahoe and for public safety.