Tahoe transportation study helps agencies, community work together
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — When Washoe County Commissioner Alexis Hill began running for office, she noticed traffic on the North Shore was a huge issue for many residents during the summer of 2020.
The list ranged from parking issues, boats and vehicles parked in illegal areas, and pedestrian safety issues.
“There are also just some lack of connectivity issues,” said Hill. “Both with pathways in Incline Village and Crystal Bay, as well as with e-bikes being on our pathways conflicting with pedestrian activity.”
Since the Tahoe Area Plan was approved in 2021 after she was elected as a commissioner, Hill saw the perfect opportunity to work on pathway and road connectivity.
Through Hill’s efforts, the Washoe County Commission approved a $100,000 for a comprehensive transportation study which will be run by Parametrix’s Amy Cummings.
“I think it’s going to be a great way for community members to really tell us their concerns and problems areas of town that we could address,” Cummings said.
Cummings explained at an Incline Village Crystal Bay Community First meeting that the study will not only look into the needs of Incline Village and Crystal Bay for transportation as a whole, but will heavily involve the community in order to pinpoint what is in high demand.
“A big part of the mission of this undertaking is listening to the residents and to the community,” Cummings said. “So an important part of this study is to formalize the ways by which Washoe County can hear from you on all things transportation.”
The community will be able to provide input and learn about the study in multiple ways; at the Citizens Advisory Board meetings, presentations to the Board of County Commissioners, and other virtual meetings. There will also be a Transportation Summit for Washoe County at the end of summer, which will bring together community members to view the work of Cumming’s team.
“I think that will be a really cool way for people to see some of the vision that she and the team will have put together from people’s public input and give their input on the vision boards,” Hill said.
Collaboration for the study will take place with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the Reno Transportation Commission, the Tahoe Transportation District, the Nevada Department of Transportation and Placer County.
Topics that will be researched and included in the study begin with snow plowing practices, short-range transit, parking management and reducing employer-based vehicle trips.
The survey will serve a number of purposes that will aid the development of Incline Village and Crystal Bay, and will open up opportunities like developing a “Main Street” on State Route 28 and potentially being eligible for grants for further development in the future.
The “Main Street” project is a national and state program that just partnered with Washoe County to work towards the redevelopment of Tahoe Blvd. in order to bring a safer area to pedestrians while also creating a lively area for the community.
“All of that flows into this planning process,” Hill said. “I’m hoping after we do these many community feedback sessions and we get a vision of what this can look like, the county can start budgeting for a capital improvement plan to improve the corridors and also work with NDOT on these plans moving forward and actually get us moving on these things to make Incline Village and Crystal Bay a more cohesive, safe community that is easier to get around in.”
Hill, who is also a board member for TTD, explained that these initiatives will need funding.
“Through TRPA and TTD, we’re trying to raise a sustainable revenue source for our transportation plan that was adopted through [both agencies],” said Hill. “That plan is comprehensive all around the lake that talks about mobility hubs, connectivity, and bus visioning.”
A few ways to build up funding for TTD and these transportation projects include the vision of a 7-7-7 split, which would be contributions of $7 million from the federal government, the states of California and Nevada, and private businesses within the basin. Discussions for that plan are still in the works.
Washoe County Commissioners recently approved a fund disbursement in the amount of $15,100 for the TTD to support staffing costs for a deputy district manager and efforts for transportation development, including regional revenue.
“We are looking to raise money to have a stable general fund from our local jurisdictions as well,” said Hill, who explained that the TTD doesn’t have tax funding in the way other transportation organizations do. “Places like RTC in Reno that runs Reno and Sparks fill their general fund with a gas tax or a developmental tax.
“We don’t have a particular sustainable revenue source to really ensure that TTD is successful long term,” Hill said. “So that’s another way that we’re looking to support transportation because we really need a stable governmental entity that’s going to run all of these different transportation opportunities.”
Paramextix is planning to wrap the study at the end of this calendar year. Community members can expect to hear more about the survey at future CAB meetings.
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