Transportation pilot programs show promise for reducing congestion at Lake Tahoe

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — New transportation pilot projects in North Lake Tahoe are showing promise for reducing congestion and improving circulation, Placer County staff recently reported.

The county recently supported a series of public transit pilot projects and alternative transportation options aimed at reducing congestion and getting people out of their cars.

To help reduce peak ski weekend traffic congestion into Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts, the county is considering converting the road shoulders on California Route 89 into a third lane only accessible by public transit vehicles, encouraging the use of those services.

The project consists of two 2-mile bus-on-shoulder zones in the highest congestion areas, specifically northbound beginning north of Cabin Creek Road to the West River Street intersection and southbound beginning south of the Pole Creek Trailhead to the Squaw Valley Road intersection.

The schedule is dependent on Caltrans and California Highway Patrol approval but is tentatively planned for winter 2019. If successful, the program could lead to an extension to the full section of California Route 89 between Olympic Valley and Truckee, and possible application on California Route 267 between Northstar and Truckee.

The county also supported a pilot park-and-ride program during peak visitation times connecting designated parking areas with popular destinations in the North Lake Tahoe area. Started in 2018 as a public-private partnership between the county, the Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association and Northstar and Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows resorts, the program served over 2,500 passengers through last winter, an average of 115 passengers a day, according to the county.

Park-and-ride shuttles carried over 700 riders from Northstar and over 1,000 from the Tahoe Biltmore and Tahoe Transit Center to fireworks displays in Kings Beach and Tahoe City during Fourth of July celebrations this summer.

The county also is partnering with the Truckee Tahoe Airport District to expand the Zagster bike-share service in Truckee to North Lake Tahoe. An initial installation is planned to offer 15 bikes for rent in five locations in Kings Beach and Tahoe City. The launch is dependent on contract negotiations, but the county hopes to launch it this month. It is expected to be tested for three warm weather seasons.

To address congestion concerns in Tahoe City and Kings Beach, the county will conduct a town center crossing guard pilot program during several days of high traffic. The study involves stationing crossing guards at several road crossing and analyzing potential reduction in the flow of pedestrians crossing the intersection and stopping traffic. The program began in June and will conclude in late September.

The study will also analyze traffic delays during peak periods without pedestrian crossing management, according to the county. Monitoring results will inform future programs and infrastructure to improve traffic flow and reduce delays on roadways during summer months.

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