Young professionals weigh in: Construction projects will benefit us
Nothing beats summer in Tahoe. Endless sunshine, sparkling blue waters, countless recreation opportunities and Tahoe’s most infamous invasive species: the orange construction cones. Yep, it’s that time of year again when we curse the traffic congestion, construction projects, and the time it takes to get from one end of town to the other. There is no doubt that the increased construction traffic is a temporary inconvenience to the Tahoe community. However, being a project planner responsible for obtaining the permits for many public works projects, I have come to realize that these seasonal construction projects contribute to positive changes for Lake Tahoe residents, tourists and the environment.
Believe it or not, most of the construction projects that take place within a public road or right-of-way are designed to provide amenities to the general public and to ensure that Tahoe is competitive with other resort towns. Several of these public improvement projects are on the horizon. For example, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency recently approved a City of South Lake Tahoe-sponsored project that will create pedestrian improvements on a portion of Pioneer Trail. The improvements include desperately needed sidewalks, bike lanes and bus shelters on Pioneer Trail from Highway 50 to Larch Ave. On Sierra Boulevard, the utility companies have committed to removing the unsightly overhead powerlines and placing them underground to increase the scenic quality of the Sierra Tract. Also, we have all grown to love Lakeview Commons, but let’s not forget the years of construction cones and barricades we endured to get such a community gem.
Not only do these projects eventually beautify Tahoe and increase mobility for pedestrians and bicyclists, they also bring Tahoe one step closer to improving water quality around the lake. Each one of these projects is required by state and regional laws to provide water quality improvements through the installation of storm drains, curb and gutter or other Best Management Practices that keep sediment from entering the lake and reducing the water clarity.
We can expect to see more of these public improvement projects move forward with the recently adopted TRPA Regional Plan Update and the Area Plans being proposed by the City of South Lake Tahoe and Douglas County. These plans highlight the vision and direction that Tahoe takes for the next 20 years and much of the focus is on providing public amenities in the form of recreational opportunities, development of city centers and tourism hubs, and focus on pedestrian and bicycle oriented transit. It is through the TRPA Regional Plan Update, the proposed city and county Area Plans and the seasonal construction projects that Lake Tahoe can stay competitive with other resort towns, such as Vail or Aspen.
As summer proceeds and we are all delayed by construction and traffic on our roadways, just remember that these projects will soon benefit the public. Tahoe is slowly but surely seeing increased public services for residents, improved scenic quality, and massive efforts in water quality improvement that will benefit us all in the near future.
— Liz Lundholm, AICP, is a project planner for Nichols Consulting Engineers.
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