The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) under the guidance of Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to Placer County’s $48 million Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project. The project, which has been years in the planning and approval process, will revitalize a 1.1-mile section of State Route 28 through the heart of Kings Beach on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore.
With the OK from TRPA, the project has now been approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors, the Placer County Planning Commission and the TRPA Advisory Planning Commission. The California Department of Transportation was waiting for TRPA approval before they sign off on the project. In addition, the California Tahoe Conservancy, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and League to Save Lake Tahoe expressed strong support in recommending approval of the project.
"I was overjoyed by the outcome and so happy to have been able to fulfill the long delayed wishes of the North Lake Tahoe community. I give credit to the County and TRPA staff as well as to my fellow TRPA Governing Board members who recognized a great project and made it happen. It was the right time, the right place and the right direction," said Supervisor Montgomery.
Although the project will enhance the look of State Route 28 through the center of Kings Beach, the real focus of the project is three-fold: improve water quality in the lake by reducing polluted runoff, improve streetscape aesthetics and improve pedestrian and bicycle mobility and safety.
The project will change the highway from a four-lane thoroughfare with traffic signals to a three-lane roadway with roundabouts. With less roadway taken by vehicle traffic, there will be more room for sidewalks and bike lanes. In addition, the project includes traffic calming devices and sidewalks in adjacent residential neighborhood streets.
The water quality aspects of the Kings Beach project will reduce the sediment from the commercial core area that flows into Lake Tahoe. Sediment is a primary cause of loss in lake clarity.
“TRPA’s approval of the Kings Beach Commercial Core Project is an important step in both the revitalization of this North Shore community and the efforts to improve the clarity of Lake Tahoe,” said Ken Grehm, Placer County Public Works Director. “We look forward to moving forward with the community in building the project.”
The 1,800- page draft environmental impact document for the project was released by Placer County in spring of 2007. After a public comment period and multiple public meetings and workshops, the County received 500 pages of comments. Those comments and the responses were incorporated into the final document, which totaled 3,200 pages. That environmental document was certified by the TRPA Governing Board in June of 2008. Today’s action was two-fold, first to approve the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement requested by the TRPA and second, an approval of the project itself.
After all the needed approvals are obtained, the project will move into the design phase which will include permitting and right of way acquisition. Construction is scheduled to begin sometime in 2011 and take three full building seasons.