Guest column: Revitalization Project needs public input to move forward
The U.S. 50/South Shore Community Revitalization Project is a proposed transportation project along U.S. Highway 50 between Nevada State Route 207 in Stateline (near Edgewood Tahoe) and Pioneer Trail in South Lake Tahoe. The proposed plan would convert the existing route through the commercial core into a three-lane local street and realign U.S. 50, following Lake Parkway East from its Nevada intersection, along the mountain side of the commercial core (behind MontBleu and Harrah’s). The realignment would continue behind Heavenly Village Center (former Crescent V), then along a new section between Fern and Echo Roads. It would rejoin the existing U.S. 50 at Pioneer Trail, providing two travel lanes in each direction with left-turn pockets at intersections and business entrances.
Now is the time for full public participation to help define South Shore’s future. The proposed project has arrived at the public comment stage in the transportation planning process – a progression of required steps for every project that follows strict governmental direction.
The City Council recently requested that Tahoe Transportation District provide additional alternatives for review to ensure the final project is one that provides the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. Public input will be a major component. We also applaud the council’s recognition for the need to revitalize the entire South Shore and look forward to working with them to determine the most appropriate form of action on this project for the benefit of all. Our board of directors concurs with their decision to have the development process guide the project design.
That course for every project includes rigorous steps. Once identified by public policy decision, it’s led by an entity that invites agency staff and technical experts to form a project delivery team. They follow steps to create alternatives that will be identified and evaluated in detail through an environmental analysis. The team develops a Statement of Purpose as a guiding element for the project reflecting public policy and project needs. Once it advances to the environmental analysis phase, the public is notified and asked to review and provide input and ideas on the proposed alternatives. That’s where we are today.
This project need was identified more than 30 years ago and is part of the city’s General Plan policy. In 2004, a technical feasibility report was prepared by TRPA in cooperation with a number of agencies. It set the stage for preparation of the Project Study Report under the Caltrans project development process. It was completed in 2010, one year after TTD took the project lead. The 2004 study looked at four alternatives and the Project Study Report, which addressed three.
Over the years, numerous alternatives have been raised, with many deemed unworkable by experts due to budget, environmental or engineering challenges.
The current environmental document analysis is focused mainly on two; three with the roundabout option. In 1991, the City’s Redevelopment Agency evaluated four other alternatives. This project has also long been identified in the Region’s Environmental Improvement Program.
The purpose of the project is all about improvements in vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle safety; environmental quality; visitor and community experience and economic vitality. As we move forward, we will determine the best alternatives based on recent input along with the required planning process resulting in a project design that will effectively, creativity and efficiently serve the needs of the community.
An economic study by an independent group will be conducted and, upon completion, those results will be shared. Case studies from other towns involving similar projects, as well as results from interviews conducted with residents and businesses regarding before and after impacts, are being thoroughly examined.
As part of our continuing overall community outreach program, we will conduct workshops with a neutral facilitator to present the most viable alternatives, along with rationale for excluded alternatives. We will continue our public outreach campaign – more than 25 presentations to groups and fraternal organizations as well as representation at numerous City Council meetings.
As a result of those outreach efforts, we’ve received many questions, comments and opinions. Many are focused on design issues that can only be determined once the environmental analysis and other approvals are secured.
What can you do to get involved? Stay informed, ask questions: email us or visit our website, attend meetings. We welcome the opportunity to present to your organization and provide the latest information. Contact Alfred Knotts, principal planner/project manager, or Tiara Wasner, community outreach specialist, at email@example.com.
– Carl Hasty is the district manager of the Tahoe Transportation District.