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Tahoe needs rail transport

In 1975, Adriana Gianturco championed an electric railway for clean and energy efficient Tahoe access and in-basin mobility. This courageous lady was representing policy view of the Department of Transportation, and was instrumental in the early years of Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Remember, this was in the years of OPEC oil embargo, and gasoline supply disruptions, eventually eased by Alaskan and North Sea oil supplies.

A recent white paper by Lionel Badal offers food for thought to Tahoe development efforts and planners. Badal’s well footnoted paper reveals the precarious situation facing America’s dependence on imported oil for transport and distribution.



TRPA and League To Save Lake Tahoe officials have to come to grips with alerts and warnings of motor fuel supply limits in the USDOE “Annual Energy Outlook,” and related comments issued by International Energy Agency spokesman Farih Birol.

An electric rail study in the 1995 Cal Trans US50/I-80 (Unabridged) Rail Corridor document is useful for developers and planners.



Quality projects that emphasis new era energy design, offered by entrepreneurs such as Roger Wittenberg at the North Shore and Youssef Amin near the Tahoe Airport are worthy of support. Mitigation is the name of the game at Tahoe, so let us take transport access as the primary element for project approval.

Wittenberg’s Boulder Bay Resort application invites inclusion of electric railway access for North Lake Tahoe. A Reno/Truckee rail line might use the former Tahoe City rail corridor, with a waterborne terminal at the proposed intermodal terminal. Would Wittenberg consider putting $10 million in rail seed money toward the Tahoe City Rail branch rehab?

A mirror image Intermodal terminal at South Lake Tahoe would be located at the dormant convention center project, Ski Run Boulevard, or near the US Forest Service’s Visitor Center at Camp Richardson. The USFS location invites recasting South Tahoe’s image, with Lake Tahoe the focal point of new transport amenities.

Amin’s Tahoe Airport Center proposal, shares Wittenberg’s opportunity for bringing a post-carbon electric railway mobility to Lake Tahoe. Will Amin’s investment group bring $10 million to South Shore transport, maybe helping Aramark with cross-lake ferry infrastructure?

The League to Save Lake Tahoe is acutely aware of electric railway as essential guarantor of Tahoe water quality. Rochelle Nason came to Tahoe at the time Laurel Ames and the League To Save Lake Tahoe were ardent supporters of an Airport Light Rail Line, and the League’s newsletter devoted an entire issue to the South Shore light rail design effort. Tahoe scientists like Lewis Goldman and Jean Claude Cousteau have long history of advocating railway in the Tahoe solution set.

All hands, lets get going on moving people to and from Tahoe, not cars. Developers certainly need to understand approaching motor fuel limits.

Gunnar Henrioulle

South Lake Tahoe


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