Demonstrators to host march calling for US 50 pedestrian crossing in South Lake Tahoe
A march demanding that California Department of Transportation respond to requests for a safe pedestrian and bike crossing on U.S. 50 will be hosted today.
“We don’t want that to happen to more people if it can be prevented,” said Gianna Leavers, who is leading the march. “If (Caltrans) isn’t doing it as part of this construction project, it’s going to be years before something can actually get done.”
Leavers is a member of the Lake Tahoe Community Mobility Group and said the group has been requesting that Caltrans install a crosswalk between the Grocery Outlet and Motel 6, adjacent to where Bright was killed, since 2012. It is unclear whether Bright was crossing the street at the time he was hit.
Steve Nelson, a public information officer for Caltrans, said Caltrans needs to conduct a study at the location to identify the best solution. This would consist of assessing the number of cars and pedestrians in the area during normal roadway operations, which would have to happen when there isn’t construction.
“In order to place a crosswalk on a state highway, the pedestrian volume needs to be high enough to justify it. This is a mid-block location of a five-lane highway with shoulders, which would be a very long crosswalk without traffic control,” Nelson wrote in an email.
Leavers did not know Bright personally, but saw how his death impacted the community and has been advocating for this crossing for years. She thinks a crosswalk with lights and a pedestrian median would be the most practical option.
For this to happen in the near future, a change order would have to be issued for the current construction project on this stretch of U.S. 50.
“We will not likely be able to do this. Pedestrian counts will need to be collected in summer 2019 and the project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2019,” Nelson stated, adding that the cost of lights would be higher than a change order could support.
Caltrans did acknowledge the crossing in a Road Safety Audit published in January. Possible solutions identified in the report include: “pedestrian refuge islands, enhanced pavement markings and Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons.” However, as Nelson noted, Caltrans has yet to conduct a study.
Nelson said Caltrans is looking at interim solutions, but could not provide specifics. Lighted crosswalks will be added on U.S. 50 and Lodi Avenue as part of the current project.
Leavers and the group of demonstrators will meet outside TJ Maxx before 5 p.m., and go from the Y to Al Tahoe Boulevard, adjacent to Denny’s. The walk is about two miles long and is expected to take one hour. Participants can walk or ride their bikes.
“Caltrans has a responsibility,” Leavers said. “We’re not asking for anything outrageous.”