Parking along Highway 89 by the Camp Richardson Resort could disappear under the Forest Service's proposal for the popular recreation area.
The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit released the environmental assessment for the Camp Richardson Resort Campground and Vehicle Circulation Best Management Practice Retrofit project earlier this month. According to a LTBMU press release, the project is designed to reduce water quality impacts and traffic congestion on the highway corridor, upgrade campground and day-use facilities and improve parking.
The assessment outlines four alternatives, including a no-action option. Each of the three action alternatives proposes prohibiting parking along Highway 89 in the resort corridor. The Forest Service would build about 100 new spaces for the displaced traffic, LTBMU Landscape Architect Daniel Cressy said.
The project proposes creating short-term parking lots on the south side of the highway near the ice cream shop and expanding existing lots on the north side by the hotel. While the assessment doesn't propose parking charges, Cressy said a fee would be likely at the short-term area.
Existing highway intersections would be reconfigured to decrease traffic congestion in the corridor. A new campground entrance would be built south of Highway 89 and the interior road system would be improved to provide vehicle access to the campsites.
"Part of the goal is to eliminate the need for people to enter the resort core. That would take some of the pressure off the Jameson Beach Road intersection," Cressy said.
Camping capacity under the LTBMU proposed action would decrease from 325 sites to between 230 and 255. The goal is to reduce peak-season camping and encourage people to take advantage of the facilities during the shoulder season. By making the area available year-round, Cressy said overall annual volume should remain the same.
The Forest Service is accepting public comments on the alternatives through March 15 and will take the feedback into account before publishing the final draft. If all goes according to plan, Cressy said construction could begin on the campground north of the highway in summer 2014. Phase two, which includes the new southern entrance to the campground, would start the following year.
Construction on a new day-use restroom could start this fall, while hotel parking improvements might be under way as early as spring 2014.
There will also be more fundraising involved. Cressy estimated that the whole project will cost about $8 million. The LTBMU has about $3 million to work with.
"There's a bunch of moving parts ... We're not increasing capacity, we're just better maintaining existing capacity," Cressy said.