‘Y’ makeover coming in 2003
The “Y,” an intersection that gets clogged with hundreds of thousands of drivers entering and leaving Lake Tahoe Basin each year, is expected to get a $1.5 million upgrade next summer.
Four new lanes and new traffic signals will allow two directions of traffic to move at the same time, decreasing congestion and reducing air pollution.
The project is being funded with federal, state and local money as part of the Environmental Improvement Program, a $908 million initiative to protect the clarity of Lake Tahoe.
“The biggest expense will be taking down the traffic signal poles,” said Stephen Peck, principal engineer at the city of South Lake Tahoe. “New ones will be powder-coated green and be more aesthetically pleasing.”
The intersection’s appearance will also be improved with landscaping in front of the Factory Stores at the Y and Miller’s Outpost; new traffic signs; and with utility wires going underground along Lake Tahoe Boulevard from the “Y” to Glorene Avenue.
The upgrade will provide room for bike lanes, revamp the two existing right turn lanes that lead to Highway 50 and Emerald Bay Road, and equip the roads with sensors to improve the efficiency of the traffic signals. The two islands that create the right turn lanes will be redesigned to accommodate 13-foot-wide colored-concrete walkways within the islands and beds for flowers.
“To beautify it and reduce traffic congestion is the whole goal of the project,” Peck said. “We’re kind of treating it like it’s the gateway to Tahoe, which essentially it is for everyone coming up from the Bay Area.”
Final plans for the project are expected to be in place the by end of December, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in July and last about four months.
“It’s an enormous project in a very difficult area,” Peck said. “To construct it, they will have to shut down parts of the intersection.”
The city is seeking approval from Caltrans so the work can be done at night. On busy weekends at Lake Tahoe, drivers can get stopped in traffic at the “Y” for long periods of time. Auto emissions produced by an idling vehicle are more harmful to the environment than pollution produced by a moving vehicle, said Jennifer Quashnick, air quality program manager at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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