Caltrans director tours Tahoe
After a tour of transportation projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin on Thursday, Caltrans Director Will Kempton and representatives from various agencies in the basin discussed some of the obstacles to improving transportation at the lake.
Increasing interagency collaboration and securing funding were identified as two of the challenges to getting projects on the ground. The tour was organized by California State Sen. Dave Cox.
Although Caltrans has $500 million to spend on projects including water-quality improvement measures in the basin over the next five or six years, according to Caltrans District 3 Director Jody Jones, the money won’t be enough to complete every potential project in the works.
“There’s never enough money to do everything everyone wants to do,” Kempton said Thursday.
One South Lake Tahoe project that remains partially funded is pedestrian and bicycle improvements along Highway 50, one of more than a half-dozen stops on Thursday’s tour.
The first phase of improvements under the project, along a two-mile stretch of the highway from Trout Creek to Ski Run Boulevard, is fully funded to the tune of $19.6 million in city, state, federal and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency funding.
Improvements along an additional three miles of Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe, the second phase of the estimated $48 million project, currently are without funding, according to materials distributed to those on the tour.
Phase One will include the construction of sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping and lighting along the Trout Creek to Ski Run stretch.
Work on this phase of the project is expected to begin in 2010, said South Lake Tahoe Public Works Director John Greenhut.
Thursday’s tour was Kempton’s first business visit to transportation sites in the basin, according to Nghia Demovic, Cox’s spokeswoman.
The visit was a chance for Kempton and other state officials to get an on-the-ground perspective on what’s in store for the future of Tahoe roadways.
“Every time you can get together, you have the opportunity to make some progress,” Cox said.
– Sierra Sun reporter Julie Brown contributed to this report.