Conservancy to help Harrison project? |

Conservancy to help Harrison project?

Christina Proctor

One step backward to take two steps forward was the dance Tuesday between Harrison Avenue business owners and government. But some property owners said they saw a first glimmer of hope after South Lake Tahoe city planners revealed a design that might bring California Tahoe Conservancy and state government monies into the job of improving the commercial district that parallels U.S. Highway 50.

Business owners gathered to view a conceptual design and cost projection that was the culmination of more than four years of discussion. JWA Consulting Engineers announced that, depending on amenities, construction costs could range from $736,000 to $953,000 – a bill that would be primarily shouldered by the business owners.

City planners were not surprised when the plan’s price tag was met with resistance. They had an alternative plan. By incorporating an 8-foot Class I bike trail linking El Dorado Beach and Los Angeles Avenue, the project could gain support and money from the Conservancy and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The California Department of Transportation is in the preliminary planning phases of a curb, gutter, and sidewalk project between Trout Creek and Ski Run Boulevard. Construction on that project is scheduled to begin 2003. Mary Kay McLanahan, city associate planner, said Harrison Avenue might also be able to benefit from drainage systems and funding that the Caltrans project will require.

According to business owners, the TRPA has shown resistance to any plan that provides angled parking, a big sticking point with businesses. Gabby Barrett, TRPA chief of long-range planning, said the new proposal that included a bike trail along with the angled parking might be acceptable.

“This is the best thing I’ve heard from them,” said property owner Mike McKeen. “It seems that the TRPA and Conservancy are offering to cooperate and look at the best possible solution for everybody. I’d be thrilled if this went forward. There are a good majority (of business owners) who are in favor of it now, and people are moving together.”

The concept discussed Tuesday includes the Class 1 bike trail next to U.S. Highway 50, a 12-foot one-way travel lane with traffic flowing from Los Angeles Avenue toward the lake, 45-degree angled parking, and a sidewalk – some of it already existing – directly in front of the businesses. The plan would also include a parking lot adjacent to the Tahoe Daily Tribune building, and designating Alameda and Modesto avenues as one way streets to Riverside Avenue with additional parking.

Even with the addition of government and Conservancy funds McLanahan said property owners would still be looking at paying for parking stalls and sidewalk improvements in front of their businesses. JWA Consulting will now work on coming up with cost projections for the new design, McLanahan said.

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