Intersection has dangerous history |

Intersection has dangerous history

Greg Risling

The intersection at U.S. Highway 50 and Fairway Avenue is one of the city’s worst for automobile accidents according to statistics.

Over a two-year period (1994-96), there were 12 reported incidents at Fairway and nearby Johnson Avenue. There have been two fatalities since 1994 at the busy thoroughfare – a bicyclist died three years ago in a traffic accident and a woman walking across the street was struck and killed last July by a 16-year-old motorist who claimed she was blinded by the setting sun.

In all, there were 125 traffic accidents in South Lake Tahoe over the two-year stretch. The accumulated data included fatalities and injuries to pedestrians and people on bicycles within city limits.

Other “clutter” spots that have the dubious distinction were at Ski Run Boulevard and Highway 50 (six bike and pedestrian injuries); Pioneer Trail and Highway 50 near Stateline (five injuries); and Third Avenue and Highway 50 (one fatality and four bike injuries). There were three other pedestrian fatalities at city intersections but only four injuries occurred at the south “Y.” The four-way stop is one of Tahoe’s high-impact areas connecting Highway 50 with State Route 89.

While the amount of accidents remains relatively low, considering the high volume of traffic from tourism, many of the city’s streets are without sidewalks and that poses a serious safety hazard to pedestrians.

According to various planners, the city must upgrade its curb cuts, signal lights and provide a stretch of sidewalk from the “Y” to Stateline.

The city’s remedy to the problem is a beautification project that will take several years to finish. The plan incorporates a bicycle lane, pedestrian lights and sidewalks from the “Y” to Ski Run Boulevard. Estimates were pegged at $4 million but Tim Oliver, the city’s engineering manager, said the total will probably exceed that original amount. The funding will come from the state’s transportation improvement program.

Oliver said that the traffic improvements are needed now but going through the proper procedure takes a good amount of time.

“We’ve recognized the demand for pedestrian facilities for the past 20 years,” he said. “It is a safety concern and we’re just going through the process. We think it will be after the year 2000 before construction begins.”

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