INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Every summer at Lake Tahoe millions of people visit our beautiful corner of the earth to enjoy the sun, sand and scenery, not to mention all of the wonderful amenities and recreational opportunities. But it's those beautiful sandy beaches along the north and east shores of the lake that draw a disproportionate crowd in relation to the parking and other logistical capabilities. With Highway 28 being a narrow road that is only one lane in each direction and no shoulder in many places, walking, cycling and even parking can be challenging experiences.
Here is an excerpt from the Tahoe Transportation District community outreach materials that provides an overview of the situation and why it would be beneficial to have a parking area in Incline Village and shuttle bus service along the East shore during the busy summer months.
"During the past decade, the Nevada SR 28/National Scenic Byway, between Incline Village and US 50 (especially the first three miles to Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park - Sand Harbor) has become increasingly congested and hazardous, both to residents/visitors and the environment. A long line of vehicles clogs this route as more than 2,000 people wait to enter the park on a typical June, July or August day. Other drivers, including emergency vehicles, can be caught in gridlock, unable to travel south.
On busy days, and with the number of visitors to Sand Harbor increasing each year (up 17% in 2011 alone), there is simply not enough paved parking, resulting in more congestion at the state park entrance and, as a result, on SR 28 safety concerns as conflicts between motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians increase. The higher demand for use of shoulder parking, adds to traffic congestion as drivers slow down to pull off/on the highway and avoid pedestrians walking to the park (Annual surveys, August 2000-August 2011, show a 116% increase in shoulder parking.)
To alleviate traffic congestion due to vehicles accessing the state park at Sand Harbor, TTD and its project partners propose a shuttle service running between Incline Village and Sand Harbor state park on BlueGo buses. Operating June 15 through Labor Day, 9am to 6pm daily; departing/arriving approximately every 20 minutes.”
This shuttle service will be a blessing for visitors and residents alike. Property owners and their guests will benefit because you will have a convenient place to park your car and ride in a comfortable shuttle bus all the way to Sand Harbor. Also, you won't have as many out-of-town people driving on unfamiliar roads and causing the usual spate of summertime accidents because they are looking at the lake and not paying attention.
Visitors who do not have access to the private beaches in Incline Village won't have to scramble for parking spaces meaning fewer accidents and confrontations. You will be able to get to and from Sand Harbor and the other beaches along the northeast shore without having to worry about finding a parking space after 9 AM. We have all seen the huge lines of cars along the side of the road beginning early in the morning in July and August and how dangerous it is for drivers to pull in and out on Highway 28.
Since the primary parking area for the shuttle bus program is the lot directly across from the Big Water Grille, I anticipate that restaurant will see a significant uptick in business due to the shuttle. At the end of the day instead of just driving back home, many people will walk across the street to have a drink or dinner. The additional revenue on a daily basis over the course of the summertime will be quite substantial and there will likely be spill over to other restaurants in town. Most people are creatures of habit and instead of just getting in their car at Sand Harbor, driving on Highway 28 to Country Club Dr. and heading directly home like they used to, they will think about stopping in town to shop or have a bite to eat.
There will not be any negative impacts on property values or residents who live along Ski Way because the purpose of the shuttle is to spread out the arrival and departure of people throughout the day. The parking is located in an area well away from the driveways for the various condo complexes and PUD developments. And there are excellent sightlines getting in and out of the parking lot so that drivers can safely enter and exit.
Using the vacant IVGID parking lot for a purpose that will reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, increase public safety and provide a convenient shuttle to the beaches along the north and east shores is a brilliant idea with no real sustainable objections. I hope the community will support this excellent use of mass transit and take advantage of having this large parking area that normally sits empty in the summertime.
— Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at www.InsideIncline.com.