Tired, old street needs some TLC
Harrison Avenue is so run down the traffic light loop detectors are exposed at the Tallac Street intersection – copper wires poking through the asphalt, rubber protective tubing worn through by thousands of car wheels.
City street Superintendent Leo Tate said the exposed wires only carry a weak magnetic pulse of no danger to pedestrians and drivers. But the wear and tear at that intersection, which Tate said his staff would repair as soon as possible, is just an example of the state the rest of the area is in. Then there’s the lack of parking and the esthetic aspects – such as the absence of basic landscaping and the entire street-length’s general state of disrepair.
Months, years even, of discussions and negotiations between the city of South Lake Tahoe and Harrison Avenue property owners to improve the area along U.S. Highway 50 have culminated in the city’s hiring JWA Consulting Engineers to develop a financial plan and conceptual design.
“JWA has finished up what the property owners had requested be implemented into the final plans,” said city associate planner, Mary Kay McLanahan. “Now we are going to present the plans to the property owners to see if they like them, and what they think about the money situation. It might be that they want to revise the plan, look at some other alternatives and maybe reach a midpoint agreement.”
McLanahan said the design includes an 8- to 10-foot landscape strip bordering the highway, a 15-foot one-way travel lane, 45 degree angled parking and a 5-foot sidewalk fronting the businesses.
“The plan also includes the California Tahoe Conservancy parking lot adjacent to the Tahoe Daily Tribune building,” McLanahan said. “As well as angled parking down Alameda and Modesto streets. Those would be one-way to Riverside Avenue.”
Although McLanahan said she could not disclose detailed financial information until the November 9 city meeting with the property owners, she said the price for the newly developed plans ranges between $550,000 and $1 million.
“The alternatives will be important to discuss at this point because that’s where property owners can save money,” she said. “For example, by incorporating other improvements, they might get other organizations to get involved and help with project funding.”
Developer and property owner Mike McKeen, owner of the Cutting Edge Sports of Lake Tahoe and Alpen Sierra Coffee Co. properties on Lake Tahoe Blvd., is developing a retail clothing store on Harrison Avenue which he plans to open by December 15. As the new guy on the block with a fresh outlook on the situation, McKeen said he has a few ideas on how to simplify the situation.
“If this project goes through, it will have to be all union labor which comes at an exorbitant cost,” McKeen said. “My idea is for owners to do their own improvements, with a consistent design throughout the street, hiring their own labor and saving as much money as they can. But I think there will be opposition because a lot of the property owners just want one contractor to get it all done at once.”
McKeen said that, as a longtime South Lake Tahoe resident, he was fully aware of the parking problems when he purchased his Harrison Avenue property adjacent to the Greenstone Bar & Grill.
“I’m here and I’m going to stay,” McKeen said. “I’m willing to contribute financially because I bought into this property this summer knowing full well what I was getting into.”
BREAKOUT A cost analysis and conceptual design for Harrison Avenue improvements will be presented Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. in the South Lake Tahoe City Council Chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
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