Construction on a long-awaited project to remake the Harrison Avenue corridor gets off to a noisy start next week.
The sound of buzzing chainsaws will fill the air Monday as crews start to cut down more than 50 trees that need to go to make room for new parking lots, sidewalks and bike paths.
Thursday brings the roar of a pulverizer as the large machine starts to make its way along Harrison to grind down the old roadway.
On the horizon and extending into the busy summer tourist season are weeks of orange barrels, construction fencing and rolling closures and detours as crews reconstruct about seven city blocks in South Lake Tahoe.
An aggressive construction schedule contractor Sierra Nevada Construction proposed aims to get the work done and crews out of key business areas as soon as possible. But it promises to be a “dynamic environment,” city officials caution.
“Everybody will have some way to get to their home or business, but there will be a bit of circumnavigation needed,” said Jim Marino, assistant director of public works for South Lake Tahoe.
Work focuses first on Harrison and Modesto avenues and the construction of a free, 39-space public parking lot on Modesto. The goal is to get that first phase of the project substantially completed and operational by July 3, said Mitch Grayson, project manager for Sierra Nevada Construction.
Crews plan to pulverize Harrison Avenue starting May 1, closing it and affected side streets as the machine moves along and reopening them after the machine has passed.
Pulverized road debris will be left in place and compacted for the new road base in an effort to reduce waste and speed up the project.
“There will be closures along Harrison throughout that. Not all at once and not for long periods of time. But we’ll go in, close the road, and open it back up as we go. If we’re not working on a section we’ll try to get cars in,” Grayson said.
A similar approach with rolling closures and detours will be taken as crews go back along Harrison Avenue to pave it.
The project’s second phase focuses on rebuilding Riverside Avenue and the side streets. It’s slated to start June 23 and be substantially completed by Aug. 15 and also will involve rolling road closures and detours.
Starting Sept. 2, after Labor Day weekend, crews will start working on expanding the boat trailer and boat launch parking areas at the northern end of Harrison Avenue. That work is tentatively scheduled to be substantially completed by Oct. 15.
The construction project has ushered in a series of new street configurations for drivers and adjacent neighborhood residents to navigate.
Harrison becomes a one-way to the south. Between Harrison and Riverside, San Francisco and Alameda avenues become one-ways to the east and San Jose becomes a one-way to the west, all remaining two-way streets west of Riverside.
As phase two starts, Riverside Avenue becomes a one-way to the north. Tallac and Modesto remain two-way streets.
Some of the side streets have new diagonal parking. Other improvements going in as part of the project include sidewalks, landscaping, streetlights and a new stormwater drainage system and infiltration basin. The area has long been plagued by heavy ponding after rain and snow events.
A bike path will be built along Harrison from Los Angeles to Modesto, up Modesto, and then along Riverside and San Jose to a Champions Plaza being built near Lakeview Commons to honor local, world-class athletes.
The nearly $6 million Harrison Avenue project has been more than 20 years in the making. City officials hope it will spur some private reinvestment into properties throughout the corridor.
“The city is very excited to do this project. This is one project we feel will stimulate this central core area, the whole Harrison core coupled with Lakeview Commons, the 56-acre site and campground area,” Marino said. “Hopefully over the next seven to 10 years we can accommodate this beautiful central core. This is one of the first steps.”