Our View: What everyone " and traffic " needs to do is calm down | SierraSun.com

Our View: What everyone " and traffic " needs to do is calm down

More than a year ago in this space we supported a three-lane plan for downtown Kings Beach.

In May 2007 we said the Commercial Core Improvement Project is the Kings Beach community’s chance to create a unique downtown, encourage (safe) walking and boost business. We still believe in that vision.

Our opinion was reached through the collective experience of staff members who have lived in Kings Beach, through weighing ” in our opinion ” the merits and demerits of the alternatives and, finally, what we believe the community deserves: A core that adds to, not detracts from, a world-class lakeshore location.

If visitors or residents find themselves looking at the inviting waters of Lake Tahoe from the far side of Highway 28 and its four (technically five) lanes, they’re still a long way from experiencing that world-class attraction. What should be an enjoyable and pleasant experience of dipping toes into that famed water is a take-your-life-into-your-hands rendezvous with vehicles.

Can a new-and-improved four/five-lane version of what we believe is a failed, out-of-date configuration be leaps-and-bound better?

In our opinion, no.

As for the degradation of Tahoe’s clarity, be it three-lanes or four, any new plan will incorporate water runoff controls.

Traffic spill-over into the grid? Where has the concern been in the past for grid residents during the handful of days that the traffic level of service on Highway 28 is at failure? All of a sudden we now have short-cut seekers?

What we truly believe, however, is that a calmer artery through the middle of Kings Beach is a benefit to everyone ” business owner, pedestrian, cyclist, resident and visitor.

Let’s go back to last year when Steve Filmanowicz from the Congress for the New Urbanism told the Sierra Sun in an interview: “If there is a wide lane and wider shoulders ” the cars see that as a signal to go faster.”

Much of the discussion about the Kings Beach redevelopment plan has centered on traffic. Will three lanes be able to handle all of the traffic? Will cars back up through town on busy weekends? They do already.

What must be considered is that Kings Beach needs traffic ” for business. The current problem is the town receives all the negative aspects of traffic “speeding, unsafe street crossings, air pollution and noise ” without receiving many of the positives ” visitors stopping their cars to spend their money downtown.

“There’s good traffic and there’s bad traffic,” said Filmanowicz. “In a downtown, you don’t want cars speeding through.”

Whether it’s traffic lights, roundabouts, a narrower highway or a new version of the status quo, what everyone needs to do ” just like the traffic ” is calm down.

As we said last year, in choosing the right alternative in the Commercial Core Improvement Project (or a combination of the positive aspects of several), the Kings Beach community will ensure a vibrant town that invites motorists to get out of their cars and a safe place for pedestrians.