The low road to a new ‘Loop Road’ at South Lake Tahoe (Opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

The low road to a new ‘Loop Road’ at South Lake Tahoe (Opinion)

Scott Ramirez
Guest column

There is a new campaign on public media spreading misinformation and unsupported claims regarding the Loop Road Project sponsored by the Tahoe Chamber and others.

The so called “High Road” advertisements claim that by redirecting traffic around it’s intended destination, lengthening the distance and reducing parking that this will somehow improve the environment.

One can marvel at how the wholesale upheaval of the entire southern side of Stateline on the mountain side to relocate and lengthen the existing highway will somehow be the environmental miracle of the century.

Never mind that both the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the transportation district have already admitted that the adopted plan will increase driving distance, reduce lanes in the most congested portions of Stateline and reduce available parking (these outcomes are clearly identified in their own reports on the project), I can only wonder as to how these projected outcomes were arrived at.

During the middle of the week and at slow times, the problems this project seeks to solve don’t exist as there is less traffic and less foot traffic. On busy weekends, the opposite is the case: The majority of traffic is headed to Stateline as the destination and this is also the time of most foot traffic. Plainly, if there are fewer parking spaces people will have to drive further to find a rare available parking spot.

This propaganda suggests that the majority of traffic passes through Stateline. What is not stated is that these views are based on the average of traffic and not the traffic seen on busy weekends and holidays.

During the middle of the week and at slow times, the problems this project seeks to solve don’t exist as there is less traffic and less foot traffic. On busy weekends, the opposite is the case: The majority of traffic is headed to Stateline as the destination and this is also the time of most foot traffic. Plainly, if there are fewer parking spaces people will have to drive further to find a rare available parking spot. Meanwhile, with more people on foot crossing roads with fewer lanes of traffic, the result will be a quagmire of people and cars.

The promotion goes on to say that a new Loop Road will improve traffic conditions in the Rocky Point neighborhood but conveniently forgets that this is done by removing the residents.

No residents mean no danger of being hit by cars that could easily be blocked by simply closing the pass through into the neighborhood. A pair of sawhorses and a sign closing the route into this neighborhood would seem a much more sensible and less costly solution than the hundreds of millions they are proposing to spend on this fiasco.

It is also suggested that those being removed will be accommodated by new housing but neglect to say that 75 units of new housing rented at market rate will cost more than their current housing, not allow the multigenerational use that is currently in place and is insufficient to provide for the already identified nearly 100 school age families and the many other not yet identified residents that will lose their homes. Plainly the required 75 units will not accommodate more than 100 families. Our schools will be heavily impacted and the costs for housing will increase as a result.

Recently we saw the need to bypass traffic through Stateline to allow for repairs in the casino corridor. What route was used to redirect traffic? The Existing Loop Road.

Imagine if the existing roads were used? Two lanes of westbound traffic on one side and two lanes of eastbound traffic on the other. Few if any homes or businesses would need to be removed and the planned low-income housing to supplement our low-income housing needs rather than attempt to backfill them.

Only the heart of Stateline would be bypassed, and the majority of traffic delivered to their destination on the busiest days.

There could still be reduced lanes in the core of Stateline with improved walking around Heavenly Village but not at the expense of residents and local small businesses at the end of Pioneer Trail. Construction time and the impact to businesses and the cost of the entire project would be greatly reduced along with the impact to the environment.

This option was not selected by those running the show and the city should demand this option be used. We can only surmise that costs, the routing of traffic away from a golf course and removing low income, primarily Hispanic residents held higher priority.

Certainly, protecting the environment was, at best, an afterthought from these supposedly environmentally driven organizations.