Opinion: Tahoe City safety can be obtained without a bypass
Special to the Sun
The project goals for the proposed Highway 89/Fanny Bridge Revitalization Project include improved safety conditions for pedestrians, Fanny Bridge and a secondary emergency access across the Truckee River.
These project goals were noted as far back as the 1994 Tahoe City Community Plan. Since 1994, a significant amount of changes has occurred over the last 21 years that have addressed some of these initial concerns.
Since 1994, a pedestrian-controlled crosswalk has been installed at the bicycle / pedestrian crossing at Fanny Bridge. This signalized crosswalk has greatly increased the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
Other options to provide safety to cyclists and pedestrians would be to provide an overhead elevated ramp system for crossing over the roadway or a crossing under the roadway through a box culvert.
Both of these ideas were reviewed and declined by the design team. In order to further increase pedestrian safety, a suggestion has been made to the design team that the current and proposed sidewalks on each side of Fanny Bridge be removed.
To provide further improved safety, it has been proposed to construct a separate bicycle and pedestrian bridge just downstream of Fanny Bridge extending from the Bridgetender over to the River Grill Restaurant.
On the upstream side of Fanny Bridge, a fish-viewing platform has been proposed which would cantilever off the bank. The proposed platform would improve the safety of pedestrians.
With the width of Fanny Bridge being prime real estate, removing the existing sidewalk from Fanny Bridge allows for adding a third lane if necessary for easing the traffic flow over the bridge.
There currently is no inadequate safety situation that exists now at the pedestrian controlled crosswalk. If an unsafe condition did exist, Caltrans would have corrected the situation.
The North Tahoe Fire Chief has noted that a secondary crossing over the Truckee River is preferred. This secondary crossing would be used by emergency vehicles in the event Fanny Bridge becomes unusable.
On March 6, a proposal was provided to the design team thate would utilize the existing vehicle access bridge which crosses the Truckee River between 64 acres and the bicycle trail across from Shell.
This concept was also discussed with the North Tahoe Fire Chief. The existing vehicle access bridge is 12 feet in width. The bridge would have to be widened by 4 feet on each side for a total width of 20 feet as required by the fire code. Removable bollards already exist where the vehicle bridge enters into the parking lot of 64 acres.
Based on the implementation of the above noted items, safety can be provided at the same level of service without significant impacts to the businesses, home owners’ property values and the environment as noted in Alternative No. 1.
As members of the Tahoe City Community, I believe we owe it to our community and irreplaceable environment that all possible design solutions be reviewed.
The Tahoe Transportation District has stated: “It should be noted that some or all concepts developed may not improve Levels of Service to levels normally considered acceptable to one or more agencies’ criteria.”
Please attend the Tahoe Transportation District Board Meeting this Friday at 9:30 A.M. at Granlibakken. The board will be voting on the project during this meeting.
Jim Sajdak is a Tahoe City resident.
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