Tahoe transit center design takes shape
Initial plans for the Tahoe City transit center were unveiled Thursday at the first of many public meetings planned to review the project.
At the same time, opponents filed an appeal in a suit challenging the center’s location.
Placer County and WRNS Studio presented the conceptual designs and elevations of the transit center to be located at the 64-acre U.S. Forest Service property near the wye during the monthly Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association board meeting.
The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the plan to build a bus center on the parcel in 2005, but several neighboring homeowners challenged the decision because they believe the property near the Tahoe City wye should be used for recreational purposes.
Advocates for the transit center contend it would solve traffic issues in Tahoe City and the West Shore by providing alternate means of travel and encouraging people to park their cars and walk.
Last month a Sacramento judge ruled in favor of the county developing a transit center after a lengthy legal battle regarding the proposed center’s impact on the environment and surrounding community.
However, Tahoe Tavern and Tahoe Shores homeowners filed an appeal on general grounds Tuesday, said attorney Rick Crabtree, who was hired by Placer County to defend against the lawsuit.
The appeal is now headed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal and does not prevent Placer County from planning and constructing the transit center.
“We’re hoping that the trial court’s decision is affirmed by the court of appeal. And, frankly, we believe it will be. It was a well-reasoned decision by a very well-respected judge,” Crabtree said.
Despite the litigation, Placer County is moving forward with plans to build the transit center and San Francisco-based architecture firm WRNS Studio has already completed preliminary designs.
“How light can we make this structure?” said Jeff Warner, WRNS architect and partner, regarding the “floating” concept of the transit center.
It will encompass about 2.5 acres of the 64-acre recreational park located off Highway 89 and include 130 parking places, room for up to six buses, bike lockers, benches, enclosed office space and public restrooms.
Natural materials like cedar and granite will be considered for the project.
Architects are working to decrease paving and preserve as many existing trees as possible to minimize the impact in developing the shelter. The design must consider pedestrians, bicyclists, cars and buses, the architects said.
“We tried to create as compact and efficient of structure to coordinate all that,” said WRNS Studio architect and partner Wright Sherman.
The architecture firm should complete 50 percent of the design phase by early fall, said Brian Stewart, Placer County Public Works senior civil engineer.
The project will be funded by myriad sources including local, state and federal grants and agencies, but estimates for the total cost of the project will have to wait.
“We’re in the infancy of getting our funding package put together for the transit center,” said Placer County Deputy Director of Public Works Peter Kraatz. “I would hope that when we go to NTRAC next Thursday, we’re hoping our consultant will have something to report to a larger group ” an idea on cost ” but it’s hard for me to say right now.”
Placer County plans to finalize funding for the project over the next two years and begin construction in 2009, Kraatz said.
Both the county and WRNS Studio will come back to the public at the North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council meeting on June 14 and for a public workshop at the board room of Tahoe City Public Utility District on June 26.
Larger-scale models and renderings will be available at the meetings, WRNS Studio architects said.
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