Stateline crosswalk could get signal
Kathy Martineau did a brave thing Monday. She returned to the Highway 50 crosswalk at Heavenly Village for the first time since she was hit by a vehicle there in July. The impact of the accident threw her through the air in the westbound lane, bruising her body and psyche.
“I don’t like it here. You know I get flashbacks,” she said, while sitting in a truck before confronting her fear.
Martineau says she has gone into counseling to deal with the emotional trauma. She has also been getting physical therapy – the July 27 accident left her with three broken ribs, among other injuries.
The day after the accident, Heavenly Mountain Resort Chief Operating Officer Blaise Carrig strongly urged all employees to refrain from crossing there “as part of the workers compensation” program, and out of concern. Martineau works in the group sales department.
The future of the crosswalk – considered dangerous by many – comes before the South Lake Tahoe City Council today at 9 a.m. The city and Caltrans vow to make improvements and have two options on the table that involve a traffic signal where a flashing beacon now exists.
One of the choices, Option A, would restrict access to vehicles on Friday Avenue, which sits just west of the crosswalk. The hope is fewer vehicles moving on Friday Avenue would make it safer. Option B would not restrict access.
Once the city decides on an option, Caltrans has pledged $130,000 of the $200,000 cost to get the job done. The project is due for completion by summer.
Most agree something has to be done.
South Lake Tahoe Police Department records indicated Monday that four vehicle-vs.-pedestrian injury accidents have been reported at the crosswalk over the last five years. In comparison, 10 accidents in five years have been reported between the state line and Pioneer Trail. There have been 11 incidents that involve bicycles in that section of Highway 50.
“This is an accident waiting to happen. Look, they’re running because they’re in fear,” Martineau said, pointing to two pedestrians sprinting from one side of the busy highway to the other.
Martineau said the flashing lights are too low. She even questioned whether the 35-mph speed limit should be reduced, but the city and state have not considered that plan.
Valerie Banon, who owns the Mountain Java coffee hut located in front of the crosswalk, has seen enough close calls to conclude that it’s dangerous.
“We see near-misses on a daily basis,” she said. Banon recalled the horror after her husband, Mike, witnessed the scene involving Martineau.
“It’s awful because he and my son had just crossed, and I have to cross there for my two jobs,” she said.
Upon hearing that, Martineau winced. The two women watched the reactions of people at the crosswalk. Powderhouse staffer George Vincent scurried across carrying a box, and a car zoomed by – missing him by a few feet.
Vincent said he’s used to the danger the crosswalk poses. He claims one of his employees was hit by a vehicle.
“I hope they do something about it. People just don’t pay attention there,” he said.
In other council business, the city may select a developer to build its proposed convention center. The city Redevelopment Agency has been talking to Randy Lane of Stateline and John Serpa of Carson City.
The agency may also expand the limits of its tax increment formula to pay for further redevelopment improvements. The change – which could extend the $150 million tax limit to $568 million – requires council approval. The agency has topped out the maximum revenue it can tap into because it’s reached its $150 million limit from the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project.
It may also direct the city attorney to develop an ordinance and plan a public hearing to disband the Tourism Promotion Business Improvement District.
The council meets today at 9 a.m. at council chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
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