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Kings Beach project wins prestigious national award

July 21, 2016

A cornerstone project that is transforming the North Lake Tahoe community of Kings Beach’s downtown  has been given a prestigious national award by the American Public Works Association. The first phase of Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project is nearing completion after three years of construction and after more than a decade of planning.

The nationwide association this month announced that the project earned the Public Works Project of the Year in the transportation category for projects costing between $5 million and $25 million. In awarding the project the association also noted the project progressed on time, despite the shortened construction season and with crews having to deal with inclement weather throughout the building season.

“A few years ago, the main drag through Kings Beach had no sidewalks or bike lanes, a single crossing across State Route 28 where pedestrians were too often struck by vehicles, and no amenities that would encourage people to get out of their cars and walk,” said Public Works and Facilities Director Ken Grehm. “There are many people who have been a part of this project over the years who should feel proud for this peer recognition. Despite the obstacles inherent to building in the Tahoe Basin, staff has persevered and the area is greatly improved.”

The focus of the project is threefold: stormwater improvements, aesthetic improvements and making the community more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

Extensive stormwater collection, conveyance and treatment features were installed as part of the project. Prior to construction, runoff, with its nutrient-laden dirt, would flow unchecked into Lake Tahoe. The reduced clarity of the lake can be directly attributed to runoff. The project added gutters, drains, collection basins and treatment structures that will significantly reduce the runoff into the lake in Kings Beach.

The shoreline at Kings Beach is one of the most beautiful around Lake Tahoe’s 77-mile perimeter. However, prior to project construction, the area was missing basic amenities. There were no sidewalks, curbs and gutters, landscaping, crosswalks or other features to encourage the public to get out of their cars and walk. Additionally, the four-lane highway through the community did little to encourage slow and safe vehicular traffic. The aesthetics of the high mountain beauty was lost. Now with the highway being a three-lane thoroughfare with roundabouts, traffic has slowed and the views are more readily seen.

The current status of the corridor as it runs through Kings Beach now has sidewalks and bicycle lanes and pedestrian features such as benches, trash receptacles, lighting, public transit pullouts and crosswalks. In addition, there is an ADA-accessible path of travel on both sides of the highway. Reconfiguring of the highway into a three-lane highway with roundabouts has slowed traffic and improved safety to cyclists and pedestrians alike. Three public parking lots have been built, improving off-street parking.

The project was recognized for the collaborative efforts between the county’s public works department, contractors and consultants. The award will be presented at the association’s annual meeting in August.

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