Construction projects surround Tahoe and Truckee region |

Construction projects surround Tahoe and Truckee region

TAHOE CITY ” The message: Buy your oranges locally, and drive during the day. Interstate 80 representatives spoke to transportation leaders Thursday at the Granlibakken in Tahoe City about a number of projects that will interrupt visitors and locals commuting to the Lake Tahoe region this summer With a project on Interstate 80 near Gold Run west of Truckee is rerouting all traffic at night, another project between Floriston and the Nevada state line slowing traffic east of Truckee, Highway 28 near Incline Village closed frequently in May, and the inspection station near the stateline being more aggressive in stopping traffic to inspect citrus for fruit flies, it could have business owners sweating in an already challenging economy. “The road needs fixing,” said Transportation Management Association Board President Steve Teshara. “There’s nothing we can do about that.” Locals and visitors are encouraged to avoid the I-80 detour in western Nevada County at nights, and local business owners and lodging managers were encouraged to communicate to their clients about the construction projects and detours. Of special note, The Tahoe Area Regional Transportation/BlueGo West Shore connection that had been called the Emerald Bay Exchange will now be in Tahoma. It will be hourly, starting May 23. Transfers will be free.

Raley’s moving forward with Truckee store

The grocery store business is going to get more competitive in the years head, as Raley’s announced on Monday, May 1, that is opening a flagship store in Truckee. “Raley’s is moving forward developing our store in Truckee; we are excited to provide the community with an innovative food shopping experience,” said Raley’s President and CEO Keith Knopf in a statement. “Truckee represents an important addition for Raley’s strategic growth plan designed to deliver on our vision of infusing life with health and happiness.” The announcement comes on the heels of a real estate deal by JMA Ventures LLC, which acquired a property at Joerger Ranch at the intersection of Highway 267 and Soaring Way. The property is adjacent to Truckee Tahoe Airport. A 35,000-square-foot Raley’s supermarket is going to anchor a 16-acre, mixed-use commercial center that will be developed in multiple phases. “We are very excited to hit this important milestone as we bring this new development to life,” said JMA Ventures LLC Todd Chapman. “We are confident that this mixed-use project will help to enhance and revitalize the retail shopping experience in the region.” The phase of construction that includes the Raley’s supermarket also calls for an additional 20,000 to 24,000 square feet of specialty retail. Ariel Fox and Hilary Parker of Retail West Inc. will handle leasing for the new center. Raley’s Director of Public Relations and Public Affairs Chelsea Minor said the plans call for the supermarket to open in the latter half of 2018. “Truckee is an important component to our strategic long-term plan,” she said in a phone interview on May 1. The future supermarket will feature increased amenities and an expanded food service department, including restaurant-quality, grab-and-go options. Store décor will reflect the rustic mountain appeal native to the region. The announcement also comes nearly a year after Raley’s disclosed in June 2016 that it planned to build at Joerger Ranch. “We felt like we needed to continue to show the progress,” said Minor, who added the company is moving ahead with the planning process. Raley’s is a privately owned, family run supermarket chain based in Sacramento. The company, founded in 1935, operates 121 stores in Northern California and Nevada under four banners: Raley’s, Bel Air Markets, Nob Hill Foods, and Food Source. Wyatt Haupt Jr. is the managing editor for the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at or 530-550-2652.

Gas station planned for the "Y"

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A gas station, convenience store and a car wash would replace a long vacant building near the intersection of Emerald Bay Road and Lake Tahoe Boulevard under an application submitted to the city. The proposed project at 1020 Emerald Bay Road is a Raley’s Aisle 1 Fuel Station, said Assistant City Planner Judy Finn. The plan includes gas pumps containing 12 fueling stations, Finn said. If approved, the development would be the 12th gas station for the Raley’s grocery store chain, which also operates the Bel Air and Nob Hill Foods brands. The company has dozens of locations throughout Northern California and Northern Nevada. Aisle 1 locations offer discounts on gas following the purchase of at least $50 worth of eligible groceries at a Raley’s-owned store, according to its web site. The proposal for the gas station project is expected to be before a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency hearings officer Sept. 1 and could gain planning approval from the city as soon as Sept. 8, Finn said. She said did not know exactly how long the existing building at the site has been vacant, but said it has been several years. The building was previously a Shell station. “It’s been vacant for a long time,” Finn said. An employee of Fillner Construction and Electric at the site Friday said the company planned to demolish the existing buildings to make way for the new car wash, gas station and convenience store. Construction will likely take between 60 and 90 days, he said. “We hope to have the project completed early in 2012, weather permitting,” said Raley’s spokeswoman Ashley Zepernick in an e-mail. Finn said the city has not yet received an application from expected tenants at the former Mikasa/Miller’s Outpost building across the intersection from the gas station. She said she expects an application for a new tenant in the building to reach the planning department in “a few weeks.”

Truckee readies for one more roundabout

TRUCKEE – Officials here have committed to building a roundabout at Brockway Road and Martis Valley Road, but may renegotiate a contract with townhome developers that are slated to bear a portion of the traffic feature’s cost. Construction estimates for the traffic circle have risen nearly $1 million since the town and the developers of the Greens at Ponderosa and Ponderosa Village agreed to split the cost of the project. The town was to bear 70 percent of the cost and the developers were responsible for 30 percent of the project now estimated to cost $1.85 million. But the agreement also stated that if prices rose more than 15 percent, the cost sharing could be re-negotiated. The town council directed town staff to do exactly that. “The delay that has caused the doubling of the construction fees was not the town’s doing, and I think we should reconsider the split of the cost,” said councilman Craig Threshie. The town expects that construction on the roundabout could begin this summer. More roundabouts The Town of Truckee is considering roundabouts at several intersections. Truckee’s draft General Plan update, which has not yet been adopted, has a policy that says roundabouts should be constructed instead of traffic lights and traffic lights should be removed in favor of roundabouts where feasible. Since some potential roundabout sites are located on state highways, Caltrans would ultimately have to approve the projects. — Highway 89 north, Prosser Dam Road and Alder Drive – This roundabout would be financed by the developers of Gray’s Crossing, Pine Forest and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. — Highway 89 north and Donner Pass Road — Highway 89 south and Deerfield Drive – This project could be completed when Sierra College builds its new Truckee campus on McIver Hill.

Ceremony kicks off wetlands restoration

The California Tahoe Conservancy’s Upper Truckee River and Wetland Restoration Project is scheduled to kick off at the end of this month. The Conservancy plans to restore 11 acres of the Truckee Marsh out of the 23-acre Lower West Side, between Tahoe Keys Marina and the mouth of the Upper Truckee River to a more naturally functioning wetland habitat. The fill removal portion of the project must be completed by Oct. 15. Vegetation will be planted over the course of two years, according to Victor Insera, wildlife/stream restoration program assistant at the Conservancy. The existing trail along the river will remain in place for public use during construction. Another trail will be constructed just west of the restored wetland for future access to the beach. Conservancy officials expect the project to improve the natural aesthetics of the Lower West Side wetlands. “The restored Lower West Side wetlands will look like the wetlands to the east, with a mosaic of different textures and shades of green from rushes, reeds, sedges and willows,” Volume 2 of the Upper Truckee Update reads. “A low knoll built near the marina and sailing lagoon will provide an overview of the whole Truckee Marsh that is not currently available.” Anyone interested in learning more about the construction schedule, haul routes, traffic control, safety measures and contact persons involved with the Upper Truckee River and Wetland Restoration Project is encouraged to attend an informational open house Saturday, May 19, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the project site near the end of Venice Drive, adjacent to the Tahoe Keys Marina.

Heavy construction ahead at Truckee roundabouts

TRUCKEE – As summer winds down, the construction on Truckee’s dual roundabouts will crank up. After Labor Day Highway 89 traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction and left-turn lanes onto and off of Interstate 80 will be closed during intervals to allow heavy construction of the roundabouts at Interstate 80 and Highway 89 south, according to contractor Burdick Excavating. Left-turn traffic will have to follow detour signs that will lead them to the interstate. “The traffic is reduced after the vacation season, and we’ve tried to schedule it accordingly,” said Bob Burton, resident engineer with the Town of Truckee. Construction has gone well so far, and the roundabouts could be completed and operational by the end of October, said Burton. “Everything is kind of going the way it was expected,” he said. The $3.5 million roundabout project was approved in December 2004, after the town convinced state transportation gurus that high-capacity roundabouts could handle traffic flowing on and off I-80. But it was a hard sell, said Tom Brannon, manager of Caltrans projects in Nevada and Sierra counties. Caltrans first proposed to build a stoplight on the Interstate 80 off-ramps, a solution that the town feared could back traffic up onto the Interstate with heavy winter tourist traffic. Once the project is complete, Truckee will have the first multi-lane roundabouts in Northern California, said Brannon. The two lanes are needed to accommodate the traffic that will pass through the configuration. The center portions of the roundabouts will be built after Labor Day, as the peak summer traffic drops off after the holiday weekend. Earlier in the summer, construction crews had been working on the sidewalks and shaving back slopes to accommodate the circular intersection. The construction schedule assures that the construction delays will have the least impact on North Tahoe tourism as possible, said Steve Teshara, executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. Highway 89 is a vital link for visitors headed to Tahoe City, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. “Since it is being done at the end of the peak summer season and before winter, we are hoping that the impacts will be minimal,” Teshara said. He said he is pleased that the Town of Truckee took the initiative to build roundabouts at the intersection rather than a stoplight. “We believe the roundabouts were the right approach to take,” Teshara said.

Demolition begins at Knights Inn, making way for Whole Foods 365

Demolition of the Knights Inn is underway, kicking off construction of the Bijou Marketplace. On Monday, Aug. 7, the city of South Lake Tahoe hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future development, located at the corner of U.S. 50 and Ski Run Boulevard. As part of the ceremony, attendees watched as a large excavator tore down the front section of the Knights Inn. "Now when our locals and our visitors come down Highway 50, the gateway to Heavenly for many of those people will be brand new, anchored by Whole Foods 365 and whatever retail businesses that Halferty Development puts in here," said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Austin Sass at the event. "I'll tell you what: Things are about as good in Tahoe as they've been in a long time … Everywhere you turn there is construction, rehabilitation, gentrification." After four years of working toward a deal, Chris Peto, chief operating officer of Halferty Development, said the company is "excited to be here." "We plan to be completed by the end of next year. Our focus has been on the grocery side of it, and [Whole Foods 365] is our only executed lease right now, but we're working on the other tenants," said Peto. "We have interest in almost all of the other spaces. We expect to have those deals finalized in the next 60 days." Adam Smith, executive coordinator of design and construction for Whole Foods, attended the groundbreaking. "We have been wanting to be a member of the community here in the Lake Tahoe area for many, many years, and we're very excited that Whole Foods Market 365 will have one of the first stores in the country right here in Tahoe," said Smith. Smith said he sees a lot of potential for partnerships between Whole Food's lower-priced store and the South Lake Tahoe community. Former mayor and councilmember Hal Cole also spoke at the ceremony for the project that he worked on for many years before deciding to retire from politics last year. Cole pointed to the environmental benefits of the project, which will daylight Bijou Park Creek and reduce the amount of fine sediment that is currently dumped into the lake through a water pipe. Cole credited City Manager Nancy Kerry and her "tenacity" for keeping the project alive despite hurdles in the sale of the Knights Inn. "Everybody else has had a little piece of it, but from the beginning to the end Nancy Kerry deserves all the credit," said Cole.

Next phase of Truckee Bike Park Project underway

The crew of enthusiasts spearheading the Truckee Bike Park Project promised to deliver several phases of construction to their already spiffy park at the western edge of River View Sports Park. They weren't fooling. The all-volunteer group is holding a fundraising party at Bar of America Thursday, May 8, after breaking ground on the third phase of the project, which will include a dual slalom course, flow trails, a small cross-country loop and a drop zone featuring a variety of different sized drops. "It's pretty exciting. Everything is moving right along," said Mark Featherstone, one of several members of the Truckee Bike Park Project group. Through fundraising efforts, sponsorships and cooperation from a trio of entities that own or lease the land, the local group began the project two years ago by carving a dirt pump track out of the woods near the BMX track off of Highway 267. They followed by adding a jump park last summer. The pump track and accompanying jump park were a hit from day one, attracting bikers young and old with their smooth-flowing lines and friendly vibes. Featherstone said the bike park averages about 50 users per day, and is often used for youth birthday parties or other gatherings. While Phase 3 of construction began last, the bulk of the work will start this week when the build crew starts pushing dirt around, Featherstone said. They hope to have construction completed by the first week of June. The project does not end there. Featherstone and company plan to add another dirt jump area below BMX track and more flow trails in the future, while the existing park features will require maintenance. None of it would be possible without fundraising. The Bar of America fundraising party costs $20 to attend and includes a dinner buffet, raffle, auction and live band — Groove Foundry. The party starts at 6 p.m. and is open to all ages. For more information, check out the Truckee Bike Park Project's Facebook page.

Planning commission OKs Truckee aquatic center

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Truckee's aquatic center project has cleared another important hurdle. The town's planning commission voted 3-1 Tuesday to approve its construction next to the Truckee Community Recreation Center — but not without some stipulations. Among other requirements, the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District must: • rename the rec center's main entrance monument to the "Truckee Community Recreation and Aquatic Center", • create an off-site parking and shuttle program in case of large events; and • adhere to a mitigation plan in the event trees identified for preservation die. A matter of deep discussion among commissioners was the center's exterior. "It's still very box-like," said Vice Chair Heather Beckman. "It really hasn't achieved the community character of the town of Truckee." Suggestions from commissioners include adding swooping and swirling exterior design elements to give the building more visual interest and a stronger association with aquatics. "The economic realities of that is we just didn't have the money for one thing to do something that would give that splash to it," explained Mark Wilson, project architect and owner of Utah-based Innovate Architecture. Most of the center's estimated $7.2 million in funding is coming from money leftover from the rec center construction bid process in 2008, with $500,000 coming from district reserves, said Kevin Murphy, a TDRPD director and aquatics committee member. "It's not about the building; it's about the water inside," he said. The aquatic center is designed to have a 25-yard, 8-lane competition pool; a diving area; and a 2,500-square-foot leisure pool, with a 70-foot current channel and 20-yard warm water lap lanes, among other amenities. "The community is saying they want this project within the restraints," said Commissioner Bruce Cornell. "Is it (the outside) perfect? No, for me it's not, but the underlying thing is this is for the community." Cornell, Beckman and Commissioner Greg Buchheister voted in favor, while Commissioner Seth Kielas voted against. Chair Stephen Ramos was absent. The project is expected to go out to bid later this month, with April 15, 2014, being the earliest construction can begin. The facility will be adjacent to the rec center at 8924 Donner Pass Road and could open in either the spring or summer of 2015.

River restoration project breaks ground

A three-year, nearly $8 million restoration of a city-owned section of the Upper Truckee River broke ground Thursday morning. Project proponents hope the restoration – in an area east of the Lake Tahoe Airport – will undo some of the historic damage to the river, including harm done when the river was diverted to a new channel as part of a runway expansion in 1968. “The deeper, wider and straighter channel has a greater capacity to transport sediment and provides poor aquatic habitat,” according to a project description from the California Tahoe Conservancy, which is providing most of the funding for the project. The Upper Truckee is the largest tributary to Lake Tahoe and is identified as a major source of clarity-reducing fine sediment by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. As part of the restoration project, an approximately 4,000-foot-long winding river channel will be constructed this summer to replace the relatively straight channel that exists today. About 43,000 cubic yards of fill also will be excavated to construct a 17-acre floodplain along the new channel. The Upper Truckee currently overflows its banks about once every three to five years, but with the new, lower floodplain, the river should overflow its banks every 1 1/2 to three years, said Jennifer Quickel, an assistant engineer with the city. The more frequent overflow will allow the floodplain to absorb more sediments and nutrients before they reach Lake Tahoe, Quickel said. But the project is about more than water quality, said Conservancy program analyst Scott Carroll. Fish habitat structures, the removal of barriers to fish movement and use of vegetation meeting habitat needs of species such as the willow flycatcher make the project a full “ecosystem restoration” rather than purely a water- quality project, Carroll said. Several challenges face the project, including maintaining compliance with Federal Aviation Administration rules, protecting a South Tahoe Public Utility District sewer pipe near the river and undertaking an extensive project in a relatively small area bordered by an airport, Carroll told representatives from the project’s more than a dozen partner agencies Thursday. Moving such a large amount of soil near an active river channel also raises the concern of sediment from construction getting into the river and degrading water quality. The contractor on the project – Kings Beach-based Burdick Excavating Inc. – is required to install a variety of best management practices to limit discharges to the river and provide monitoring reports to Lake Tahoe Basin regulatory agencies to make sure the project meets water-quality standards, Quickel said. Depending on the effectiveness of replanting efforts in 2009, the river could be diverted into the new channel by 2010 or 2011. Construction on the restoration project likely will occur between July and September during each of the next three or four summers, Quickel said. Four additional restoration projects along the lower seven miles of the Upper Truckee River are in various stages of development. “We’ve got a bunch of other projects coming down, and this is really just the start,” Carroll said.