KINGS BEACH, Calif. — This is the start of Kings Beach’s renaissance.
That’s how North Tahoe Public Utility District board president Lane Lewis described Monday’s official groundbreaking of the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project.
“This is going to be such a blessing for this community,” he said before a crowd of project partners, Placer County supervisors and community members on the North Tahoe Event Center terrace.
After roughly two decades of debates, decisions and public meetings, construction on the “Core of the Core” to convert Highway 28 from four lanes to three along with other improvements began earlier this month.
“It’s not a road; it was a highway, and our (town) spirit was always marred and somewhat pulled down by that,” said Dave Ferrari, co-owner of the Ferrari Crown Resort in Kings Beach. “... In all the years that it took to get here, we’re coming back, and the spirit of Kings Beach is truly going to be here again.”
Crews are installing drainage improvements and surface improvements in front of the Kings Beach State Recreation Area, with a Coon Street roundabout scheduled to be done by July 1.
A portion of the recreation area’s parking lot is serving as a staging area for equipment and construction materials, an agreement made between Placer County and California State Parks within the last few years, said Peter Kraatz, deputy director for Placer County Department of Public Works.
While the lot will be used throughout the project, it’s unknown if additional space will be freed starting July 1.
From July 1 to Sept. 7, crews will cease highway work and focus on the Grid neighborhood, installing traffic-calming measures and drainage and surface improvements at Coon and Fox streets and Minnow and Salmon avenues.
After Sept. 7, highway work will resume, with a plan to complete a roundabout at Bear Street by the Oct. 15 Tahoe Regional Planning Agency grading-season deadline.
“It’s going to increase public safety,” said Jennifer Montgomery, District 5 supervisor for Placer County. “It’s going to be a better economic environment. It’s going to be a better environment — 88,000 pounds of sediment that runs off the highway through town here is going to be kept out of Lake Tahoe.”
Originally, the project started out as a sidewalk upgrade, Theresa May Duggan, a Kings Beach property owner and Tahoe Vista resident, reminded everyone on Monday.
Over nearly two decades and through varying forms of public input, the project morphed into what it is today — and not without some controversy, Duggan said.
“The three-lane, four-lane debate was heated and lasted far too long,” she said. “It was divisive, and it’s actually painful to remember.”
“Over the years, I’ve come to realize that places of controversy are often the proving grounds for great things,” added Shelly Aldean, TRPA governing board chair.
The $24 million Core of the Core — expected to take two construction seasons — is the first of two phases in the $50 million commercial core project, an initiative to upgrade and improve the 1.1-mile section of Highway 28 through Kings Beach.
The project aims to improve pedestrian and bike access and the aesthetics and feel of downtown. Full completion is not expected until at least 2017.
“Today we’re moving forward,” Duggan said. “I can’t wait to come back and see the ribbon cutting on our new Main Street.”
For more project information, visit www.kingsbeachcore.info.