My Turn: Distinguish KB as a place to visit, live
This is an open letter to tue Tahoe Regional Planning Agency: I have been informed that you are preparing for a hearing regarding the Kings Beach Commercial Core project.
I am one of many Kings Beach residents who have attended the meetings regarding the project for the past eight years, and I wish to comment on the alternatives. Maintaining and protecting the scenic character of Lake Tahoe and its communities is a goal we all share.
While highway expansion is one way to react to the inevitable growth in visitor numbers to this area, more proactive measures are needed to preserve and distinguish Lake Tahoe as a place to visit and live. As stewards of Lake Tahoe and its environment, I expect TRPA should be in agreement with the community’s expressed preference for a three-lane alternative with roundabouts rather than an expanded four-lane configuration with additional stoplights.
The four-lane configuration is aesthetically unappealing, noisy, less beneficial to the environment, and dangerous. It uses more pavement coverage, leaving less room for landscaping and walkways.
The extra lanes enable vehicles to pass and speed, which significantly increases noise levels while creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians and drivers. Stoplights obstruct the scenery, produce light pollution, and create a stop-and-go traffic pattern which again encourages speeding, burns more fuel, creates more noise, and produces more pollution.
Kings Beach is a seasonal destination, and the four-lane configuration is more nuisance than necessary during the majority of the year.
The three-lane alternative requires less pavement coverage, is aesthetically superior, encourages walking and biking, and provides a controlled, steady traffic flow.
The proposed roundabouts provide further landscaping and water treatment opportunities while providing safe and attractive intersections. By slowing traffic and providing shorter distances for pedestrians to cross, the three-lane alternative will create a Kings Beach that is a safe and pleasant place to walk through rather than a place where a car is the preferred way to travel.
As a resident living in “the grid”, I am aware of some concerns that have been raised regarding various aspects of the three-lane road configuration. Over the years, I have come to believe that all of these issues are resolvable or acceptable, and that the year-round benefits of a scenic and walkable Kings Beach outweigh the benefits of increased traffic capacity.
Visitors will continue to flock to this scenic destination during peak seasons for decades, even centuries. The entire Lake Tahoe Basin is faced with the challenge of dealing with the traffic growth these visitors bring. To accommodate this traffic, a larger highway could be built around the lake at the expense of communities like Kings Beach, Tahoe City, and West Shore, or more proactive solutions can be developed to mitigate the growth in automobile use in the Basin over the coming decades. Let us work towards a future where transit options are diversified, public transportation is available and reliable, and Lake Tahoe’s character is preserved.
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