Jaywalkers get city’s attention | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Jaywalkers get city’s attention

Chris Wellhausen/Tahoe TribuneRichard Trippie of New York crosses the highway in front of the Marriott complex on Friday.

Pedestrian traffic at the Park Avenue redevelopment site has made the radar screen of South Lake Tahoe law enforcement, walkers, city officials and even a psychic.

At issue is whether more crosswalks would make it safer for the scores of people crossing Park Avenue from the Crescent V Shopping Center to the Marriott complex and others negotiating the Highway 50 thoroughfare to reach the village designed to be pedestrian friendly.

“You would think they would have something here — especially for those staying here (at the Marriott hotels) to go to the store,” said Paul San Julian, a Stockton resident who scurried between vehicles on Park Avenue with his family last weekend. “When this gets icy, I’ve seen some close calls down this road.”

Even though there is a crosswalk on Park Avenue between the shopping center parking lot and the Marriott, many pedestrians jaywalk. Curves in some areas of Park Avenue make it difficult to put in the additional walkways, Public Works Director Brad Vidro said.

“We want people not to use the middle,” he said.

And obstacles delaying construction may be as hard to predict as a psychic’s take on economic recovery.

The city’s fee-based parking garage, which is now under construction, is due for completion in March. For now, Heavenly Ski Resort has leased 150 spaces in the lot to accommodate its skiers and boarders. They cross at various places from the parking lot to board the gondola.

“As soon as the parking garage is completed — that should rectify that problem,” South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Rich McGuffin said Monday, adding he’s heard more complaints about Friday Avenue. The road runs perpendicular to Highway 50 just west of the development, where skiers and shoppers jaywalk to get to the Marriott complex.

Caltrans plans to install a crosswalk there this summer.

Last year the police department responded to three accidents at the busy intersection, two involving pedestrians, McGuffin reported. The area was a problem for pedestrians before the Marriott was completed.

“The whole redevelopment project was designed for pedestrian traffic,” McGuffin said. “We need to find a way to make it safer. We’re going to explore some sort of way to warn drivers of pedestrians.”

Additional traffic lights represent one option.

The city plans to meet with Caltrans to discuss crosswalks in the high-traffic zone, City Manager David Jinkens said.

Phone calls to Caltrans officials were unreturned.

“It’s always been the preference of the project proponents that they have a crosswalk to facilitate pedestrian crossing,” said Lew Feldman, the development partners’ attorney. “Clearly that demand exists.”

Beyond the clunking of ski boots, Feldman said he’s aware of people wheeling shopping carts between Raley’s and Marriott.

The city installed an ice-thawing system for the project’s surrounding sidewalks as one safety measure.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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