City Council unanimously opposes proposed speed limit increases

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday evening unanimously voted to oppose the proposed speed increases on U.S Highway 50 and State Route 89 during the evening meeting Tuesday June 20.

Preceding the vote, passionate protests were presented one after another from affected members of the community, including “deeply concerned” local business owners, and residents who bike, walk, and live in the area.

“Speed Kills,” South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce’s Duane Wallace said and many other commenters agreed increase in speed means more risk. 

Several members of the Tahoe Bicycle Coalition biked from the “Y” to the council meeting at City Hall/Lake Tahoe Airport together despite fear of being hit after they said a fellow cyclist was hit just one day prior. 

Former city council candidate Nick Speal said, “Caltrans is working against you, not because they don’t share your goals but because they are following orders and how things have always been done.”

Speal showed gratitude for the work the City has done to encourage the decision for Caltrans to delay the speed increase until after the highway safety project. 

Steve Nelson, public information officer for Caltrans District 3 said, “There was a comment that Caltrans was not here tonight but we are here and we hear you.”

Nelson added, “We are bound by California Vehicle codes to do the studies and based on the Engineering and Traffic survey there are two segments that are recommended for speed limit decreases. I can’t speak to the other areas but we’re bound by these studies because if we don’t law enforcement can’t enforce [the speed limits].”

There were three areas where speed limit hikes were recommended by Caltrans, US 50/89 – North of Kyburz Avenue to North of C Street from 45 mph to 50 mph; US 50 – North of C Street to North of Blue Lake Ave from 40 mph to 45 mph; and US 89 – Lake Tahoe Blvd “Y” to near Pope Beach Entrance from 35 mph to 45 mph.

Councilmember John Friedrich implored the council to work towards bill AB-43, which would reduce the speed limit to 25 mph on the roads through business and residential areas. 

Ultimately, Nelson said another analysis will be completed in 2025 after the completion of the safety project and the speed suggestions will be reevaluated.

Councilmember Tamara Wallace said the two years would give a chance for AB-43 to take effect and the process can begin. 

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