Hwy. 50 money in place | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hwy. 50 money in place

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Caltrans has proposed synchronizing traffic lights as part of Highway 50 improvements.

Highway 50 stands closer to receiving wider bike lanes, sidewalks, landscaping and stormwater basins – and perhaps synchronized traffic lights, Caltrans reported Tuesday to the South Lake Tahoe City Council.

The state transportation agency told the council it has secured the necessary $45 million to upgrade the major thoroughfare divided into two sections from Trout Creek to Ski Run Boulevard. The city’s obligated to chip in $1 million to the effort – a proposal in the works for a decade.

The first phase is expected to begin May 2008 where Trout Creek meets Highway 50 and then northeast to Lakeview Avenue. The second section, which would run from Lakeview to Ski Run, will not include sidewalks.

Caltrans project manager Rich Williams said a primary path already exists for pedestrians.

“Normally, (sidewalks) would be funded by local agencies – especially with the kind of meandering sidewalks they want,” he said.

The disclosure got the attention of David Kelly, who represents the Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the disabled. Kelly said including sidewalks on one phase is not the ideal scenario, but there’s nothing he would do about it.

“It’s a start,” he said of the project.

Kelly Reyes, who works at Denny’s restaurant, said the project couldn’t hurt the pedestrians who have to negotiate snowbanks in the winter and dirt paths in other seasons.

Williams said Caltrans would file for a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency permit next June.

By then, the agency may know how to fund a system to synchronize traffic signals along the route. It’s estimated to cost about $3 million.

Some traffic lights on Highway 50 have a short span. Others are long.

“If you look at the lights in Sacramento, they’re set to hit on 25 mph. But the ones in South Lake Tahoe are so spaced out,” Williams said.

The Highway 50 project would include retention basins to collect stormwater runoff at a lot across from Al Tahoe Boulevard and at Campground by the Lake between Rufus Allen Boulevard and Lakeview. Right now, oily sludge drifts from the highway onto El Dorado Beach. Those drains would stay in place to take the overflow in a 100-year storm, Mark Reynolds of the TRPA said.

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