South Lake Tahoe finishes Sierra Blvd project, more road work in plans
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Residents are celebrating the end of construction on Sierra Blvd but they will have to prepare for much more road work around the city in the coming years.
Repairing Sierra Blvd had been on the city’s to-do list for over a decade but with help from federal funding from Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program and Surface Transportation Block Grant program, as well as funds from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, allowed the city to make the project higher quality.
One of the main goals of the project was stormwater collection.
“New surface and subsurface stormwater improvements will eliminate roadside shoulder erosion, sediment transport, and deposition of sediment historically occurring within street intersections and driveways along Sierra Blvd,” said City of South Lake Tahoe Engineer Stan Hill.
Along with being able to address stormwater issues, the project also allowed TRPA and the city to add bike lanes, street lighting, ADA compliant curbs, street parking and other improvements.
“The mixed use recreational trail, sidewalk and streetlights will encourage walking and bicycling as an alternative to motor vehicle transportation,” Hill said. “Less motor vehicles on the roads correlates to less motor vehicle congestion and better health for those selecting to use an alternative mode of transportation.”
Improvements made should lend to a longer life of the road. The pavement structure is designed to withstand heavily loaded trucks moving snow.
Hill also said the binding oils in asphalt they used is much more resilient to changing temperatures so it shouldn’t crack as severely as it has in the past.
Hill and the city acknowledges the poor condition Sierra Blvd was in and the condition many of the roads still are.
So, while residents can look forward to less traffic delays on Sierra Blvd, they will need to get ready for more delays in the future.
City Manager Frank Rush Jr. has been working on a road maintenance plan.
“Street maintenance has been a concern for the city for a while,” Rush said. “There is a backlog of maintenance needs on the streets.”
According to Rush, the city has about 130 miles of city streets, not including Highways 50 and 89.
Rush has allocated city revenue to replacing five to six miles of road per year.
The city is looking at street quality to decide which roads are most in need of repair.
Rush is also working with South Tahoe Public Utilities District and Southwest Gas to get a schedule of when and where they will need to tear up the roads to replace street pipes and put in water meters in order to minimize street cuts.
While traffic delays can be annoying to drivers, having roads in good condition is better for cars and for the environment.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, poor roads can lead to lower fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions
For Rush, street maintenance is a high priority. He said, the better the city does of taking care of their assets, the more people are willing to take care of their own assets.
“We owe that to the residents and taxpayers to take care of the streets they’re paying for,” said Rush.