Highway issue creates bad vibes between agencies
A small army of officials from the Nevada Department of Transportation attended a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency meeting in Stateline Wednesday with one of them butting heads with its executive director over highway rumble strips.
“We don’t have any idea if they’ll fall within the noise threshold or not,” said John Singlaub, TRPA executive director to Thor Dyson, district engineer for NDOT. “We’re not asking for much. I’m sure those who live near rumble strips know how much noise is involved.”
The TRPA has asked Nevada’s transportation agency to submit a noise study for a highway safety project it plans to undertake this spring between Spooner Summit and Stateline. The project has polarized, at least for now, two agencies that normally work as partners to meet environmental thresholds designed to protect Lake Tahoe.
“There are public safety issues as well as threshold issues,” said Carl Hasty, TRPA deputy director. “We have our own standards to be met.”
The project involves a little more of two miles of rumble strip from Spooner Summit to Glenbrook, and about three miles of guardrail.
Last week, NDOT said it would not submit a noise study because it is a given that rumble strips, designed to shake drivers to attention when they approach the centerline of the highway, exceed TRPA noise limits. Now the plan is to sit down with staff from the TRPA and talk it out.
“At this point, I think we’re saying we’re going to discuss that,” said Scott Magruder, NDOT spokesman. “We really need to all sit down and work this out.”
A similar spat between the TRPA and Caltrans developed over the installation of shiny guardrail along a North Shore highway. Caltrans refused to install “rust rail,” which the TRPA says blends better with the natural environment, because they say it is weaker than shiny galvanized guardrail.
The dispute was resolved on Tuesday when Caltrans agreed to conduct a study to determine a more aesthetic alternative to the shiny guardrail. Until the alternative is determined, Caltrans agreed to remove the shiny guardrail and install a duller gray guardrail that is just as strong.
NDOT said it plans to work alongside Caltrans on the study. In the meantime, Magruder said, NDOT will submit another application for its highway safety project that asks for permission to install duller, galvanized guardrail on Highway 50.
– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org