Paul Curtis: Decisions and their consequences
Decisions have consequences. Ideally the consequences of a decision are well considered, and the consequences of the decision are recognized, discussed and agreed upon before a decision is finalized.
If there is insufficient thought given, or if the decision makers lack an understanding of the logical consequences of a proposal there can be unintended consequences which then come as a surprise.
The Existing Conditions report that was prepared for the Town of Truckee was the first step to updating the Town’s General Plan. Among other things, it discusses Truckee’s infrastructure and roadway capacity. It says that most if not all the intersections in Truckee are operating at acceptable Levels of Service. It goes on to mention that periodic tourist traffic flows exacerbate the condition. Well, Duh!
This issue was brought up at a General Plan Advisory Committee meeting. It remains unclear whether this was a misreading of the report or if it was an accurate summation of the information provided. It is a critical issue. If the report is based only on Truckee’s population and the traffic generated by Truckee residents, the report could be correct in estimating that intersection level of service is acceptable. However, it is the tourist population that is critical here. It should be clear to anyone living in Truckee that there are many times when intersections and roadways in the Town are in failure mode. This is particularly true during holiday periods, but that condition will become more prevalent over time unless we act. I believe we must recognize, understand and consider the effect that the tourist population has on the infrastructure of the Town.
The last Truckee General Plan update made the decision that Donner Pass Road should remain as a two-lane roadway. Donner Pass Road is now being improved to effectuate that decision. As nice as this improvement will be, it will have the effect of limiting the traffic carrying capacity of this important roadway through our community. If the only traffic on Donner Pass Road were generated by the local population, this may be an acceptable long-term solution.
However, if this decision fails to recognize the impact of the tourist traffic or provide satisfactory solutions for the ultimate conditions that are inevitable over time it may turn out to have made a bad situation worse.
There are a few sites along Donner Pass Road that have been suggested as possible locations for additional housing. These sites have the benefit of being closer to downtown. However, every new housing proposal carries with it additional traffic demands. The idealistic notion of a “walkable” community in an environment as harsh as a Truckee winter rings untrue. The consequences of keeping Donner Pass Road at two lanes will affect the town for many years to come.
Living with more traffic congestion on Donner Pass Road will be a consequence of a decision made in the last General Plan update. It is a valid choice. I just hope that when the decision was made the consequences of that decision were clearly recognized and understood and that the decision to cause Donner Pass Road to remain a two-lane roadway were made with a full realization of the impacts that decision carries.
The new General Plan Update is a time to contemplate the future and the consequences of the decisions made during the Update. It is a time for clear-eyed analysis of the consequences of actions and not a time for starry eyed dreaming of how things “should” be.
Paul Curtis is a developer representative on Truckee’s General Plan Advisory Committee.