Council agrees to finance work for Highway 50 project |

Council agrees to finance work for Highway 50 project

Susan Wood

Looking ahead to 2006, the South Lake Tahoe City Council committed Tuesday to finding a way to finance maintenance of Highway 50 improvements.

Over a decade in the works, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency cautioned the council that it may lose critical project funding to construct the $30 million “curb and gutter.”

Charles Emmett, who works in the TRPA Environmental Improvement Program division, said $4 million from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act could be lost “without cooperation” in maintenance duties such as snow blowing and mowing.

“It’s hard to secure this level of funding without it,” he said.

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The high-profile project, which is supported by a number of agencies, calls for a massive overhaul on 3.7 miles of Highway 50 from Ski Run Boulevard to Trout Creek. It includes curbs and gutters, storm-water collection, a 4.5-foot-wide sidewalk, lighting, a widening of the bike trail, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps as well as landscaping.

With a deepening budget shortfall staring at the city, Public Works Director Brad Vidro needed to know if the council considered it a priority project.

In a zealous gesture, the council told Vidro to return with financing options and a timeline to make it happen. Ideas have come up such as forming a landscaping and lighting district or a business improvement district.

“We’re not taxing our way out of this,” Mayor Tom Davis said.

The council appeared sensitive to a sales tax increase coming before voters, shortly after the city raised business license fees and the motel-room tax.

“I think the responsibility should be shared by the city,” Councilwoman Judy Brown said.

Vidro figured maintenance may require an annual match from the city amounting to between $197,000 to $279,000.

Public Works also received approval from the council on its capital improvement program, including the restoring of the Ski Run stream environment zone to doing the landscaping at Bijou Community Park.

The council denied a Parks and Recreation Department request to transfer about two-thirds of the $258,100 in Bijou Park’s CIP fund to the new synthetic ballfields off Al Tahoe Boulevard. Instead, the money stays in reserve.

Regarding maintaining marketing dollars, the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and Lodging Association had asked the city to create a criteria for advisory board membership to the proposed business improvement district.

The improvement district is due to make the Aug. 17 council meeting.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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