Editorial: Crosswalk decision deserves praise
March 10, 2006
Perhaps it was the community pressure, or maybe it was an epiphany on the part of our South Lake Tahoe City Council, but the news last week of a planned signal for the crosswalk in front of the Heavenly Village on Highway 50 is welcome, and our city leaders (with $10,000 kicked in from the Park Avenue Development people) deserve accolades for the decision to pursue its construction.
Although $69,000 (the city’s portion of the bill) is not a lot of money, even by local government standards, its allocation is symbolic of a greater recognition that the safety of local residents and visitors is a priority.
Anyone who spends time in the redevelopment corridor knows the hazard the crosswalk represents. Regularly, pedestrians have hair-raising close calls as drivers, either unaware of their crossing or uncaring, skid to a halt or have a near-miss. Last year, Kathy Martineau, a Heavenly employee, suffered serious injuries at the site when she was hit while crossing on her way to work.
Martineau’s voice joined the chorus of those calling for a construction of the signal. And the City Council took note.
The allocation of city money is only the beginning. The project technically will be spearheaded by CalTrans. The state transportation agency will foot the largest part of the bill with $166,000.
Ideally, this traffic signal will be a temporary solution. With traffic a growing concern in South Lake Tahoe – any future new road construction is highly unlikely – the best permanent solution to the Highway 50 problem is a pedestrian skywalk or tunnel. Stopping traffic every five minutes on the largest thoroughfare in town will grate on the nerves of everyone, local and tourist, who has to drive through the area.
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With construction of a new area of redevelopment (including a convention center) across the street from the Heavenly Village on the horizon, the time is right to think about how this problem will be solved permanently, and include that solution into the plans. But that remains to be decided (the jury is still out on whether the project will be green lighted). Until then, adding the signal at the crosswalk solves a serious problem.