Plan to save road shoulders working out |

Plan to save road shoulders working out

by Andy Bourelle

The initial scoping process is nearing completion regarding plans to build or expand four parking lots near a series of popular beaches on Lake Tahoe’s northeast shore.

A draft environmental assessment of the project should be finished by the end of the month, which will trigger another public-comment period.

“What we’re doing right now is we’re going through the comments we’ve received, and we’ll incorporate them into the environmental assessment we prepare,” said Paul Pettersen, senior environmental scientist for Harding Lawson Associates, the consulting firm on the project for the Nevada Department of Transportation and U.S. Forest Service.

The lots are to be built – no sooner than 2000 – to replace about 150 road-side parking spaces that are expected to be eliminated when water quality projects are implemented on U.S. Highway 28.

Lake Tahoe visitors and residents who hike or sunbathe on the hidden beaches in the area currently use shoulder parking along a 12-mile stretch of the highway south of Incline Village.

However, those parked cars cause erosion problems and contribute to the declining clarity of Lake Tahoe. Work planned for that section of road includes installing curbs, gutters and drop-inlets as well as erosion-control work on the slopes around the highway. The erosion-control work is expected to cost $4.6 million.

“The amount of erosion and sediment coming off the shoulder and cut slopes is significant,” Pettersen said. “(The project) will significantly reduce erosion and sediment to Lake Tahoe. The driving force behind all this is really water-quality driven.”

Pettersen said the bulk of the comments received have been requests that parking still be available in the area, so residents and visitors could still access the string of beaches.

Federal funds have become available that likely would pay for two of the four lots, and Pettersen said part of what officials are doing now will identify the first ones to be built.

The parking lots will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service once completed.

The potential work includes:

n The $140,000 construction of a new 60-space parking lot between Secret and Skunk harbors, with a milelong trail to the lake.

n The $90,000, 15-space expansion to a 31-space parking area south of Chimney Beach.

n The $190,000, 52-space expansion of a 20-space parking area north of Chimney Beach.

n The $170,000 conversion of a helicopter landing area north of Secret Harbor into a peak-time-only parking area for 52 vehicles.

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