Visitor Center receiving face-lift |

Visitor Center receiving face-lift

The Lake Tahoe Visitor Center, just north of Camp Richardson on California State Route 89, will be closed for two months while much-needed improvements are made to the site.

Work began Monday at the U.S. Forest Service site which has served as an information stop to Lake Tahoe visitors and residents for more than 30 years.

Mostly infrastructure improvements – a redesign of the parking lot, an overhaul of the building’s rest rooms and the replacement of lighting fixtures – are planned for the grounds which haven’t seen an overhaul of this magnitude in the three decades it’s been standing, said Mike St. Michel, visitor center director.

“There’s been a lot of piece-meal work over the years, but nothing like this,” St. Michel said. “The total job is going to cost about $460,000, and the parking lot is going to be the biggest chunk of that.”

Along with widening of turn lanes and parking stalls, there will be an overlay in the pavement which has cracked and crumbled from the force of tree roots growing underneath.

New bathroom fixtures, a new roof, counter tops and handicap access are planned for the round building located at the start of the Rainbow Trail, which is also closed while the Forest Service plants more than 20 new interpretive signs along the half-mile loop.

Crews will be working 12-hour days in order to get the visitor center open by July, when the busy summer rolls in, said Gene Smith, Forest Service civil engineer technician.

“This site is closed and we want to keep people out of the area so the contractor can do his work and we can get the visitor center open on time,” Smith said.

Trails along the beaches, and the bike path that parallels State Route 89 will remain open while work is in progress.

The visitor center usually doesn’t open for the season until Memorial Day. It operates on weekends through June and opens seven days a week from July through Labor Day.

While the visitor center is closed early this summer, wilderness and fire permits will be issued daily at the Supervisor’s Office, at 870 Emerald Bay Road.

Call the U.S. Forest Service at (530) 573-2600 for more details.

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