Frequently Asked Questions
Purpose and Alternative Selection
The purpose of the project is to improve overall accessibility, mobility and safety for all roadway users while providing a continuous complete street corridor. The County desires to provide better connectivity between the downtown core and the west side of the community that extends to all transportation modes. The project is needed to provide safer facilities for cycling and walking. While the existing intersection has bicycle lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks along State SR (SR) 28, they are narrow, adjacent to traffic and are obstructed by the existing signal infrastructure and therefore need to be expanded to provide safer, dedicated facilities for local residents and visitors.
Goals and objectives of the project include: 1) improve safety and mobility for bicyclists and pedestrians; 2) provide a complete street corridor that connects to the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project (KBCCIP); and 3) consistency with local, regional and state planning.
- When will a decision between the two alternatives be made? What does the County consider when selecting the preferred alternative?
As of the September 2020, the Draft Environmental Document and Draft Project Report recommended a preferred alternative based on a number of factors. Since this project is located mostly within the Caltrans right of way, this decision is made by a Project Development Team which consists of County, Caltrans, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and Consultant staff members from various disciplines, including environmental, design, right of way, maintenance and more. The team makes the decision based on various items including public input, environmental impacts, impacts to adjacent properties, access to parcels, operations (vehicle and pedestrians), accommodation of all users (pedestrians, bicycle, buses, etc.), maintenance, adherence the to the projects purpose and need, adherence to planning documents, etc. The analysis of the considered alternatives was documented though a process called Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE). The ICE Report is available.
The ICE process looked at various alternatives including different types of roundabout and signal alternatives. In the ICE screening process, the alternatives were compared based on the goals and need of the project while keeping traffic moving, providing safer streets, and minimizing impacts to adjacent properties and the environment. The screening topics are listed in the question response above. The ICE process carefully looked at the alternatives and ultimately recommended the signal alternative be dropped from consideration as it did not meet the purpose and need of the project. Therefore, only one build alternative, the roundabout was analyzed in the environmental document. The roundabout improves safety for all users, improves mobility for bicyclists and pedestrians, provides a context sensitive, complete street environment, is consistent with local, regional and state planning, and operates within acceptable levels of service for motor vehicles.
The potential for environmentally sensitive areas (ESA) have been and investigated and fully evaluated in the environmental document. There are areas, like the detention pond on the private parcel that will be impacted by the project and a location within the project footprint where a new detention area can be constructed.
Reducing SR 28 to one lane in each direction will help to improve safety for all roadway users, reduce vehicle travel speeds, provide more room for bicycle lanes, and provide a shorter crossing distance at the crosswalk. Based on speed surveys conducted, there are a significant number of vehicles traveling higher than the posted speed limit within this section of SR 28. Based on observed driver behaviors, this is most likely due to drivers using this section of SR 28 as a passing lane, which increases risks for pedestrians and cyclists.
Additionally, the lane reduction will allow for wider bicycle lanes, a dedicated bus pull out for westbound buses, and limited seasonal on street parking which will double as a snow storage area in the winter.
The air quality and emissions analyses were completed under the environmental document. Specific discussions on this topic can be found in Section 4.8, Appendix A, Appendix C, and Appendix F of the Environmental Document, available here . Below is a summary of the Green House Gas Reduction.
Project Air Pollutant Emissions (Annual)
Alternative 3 – Roundabout
Alternative 4 – Signalization
Meeting dates and times are advertised on social media, local newspapers, the North Tahoe Business Association e-newsletter, postcards sent out in the mail, email blasts and flyers around the community. If you would like to be added to the email or mailing list, please provide your contact information to County Project Manager, Andy Deinken.
Construction funding has not yet been identified for the project. The County has been using block grant and local funds to help pay for the design and environmental documentation costs.
If the County is able to obtain the necessary funds to construct the project, then construction is expected to begin Summer 2025 and end Fall 2026.
- Has the traffic analysis accounted for the large amount of pedestrians and vehicles in Kings Beach during the summertime? Will the roundabout provide a pedestrian beacon to meter pedestrians?
Yes. The traffic analysis was done for off-peak season (winter) and the peak season (summer). The traffic volumes used in the analysis are average volumes experienced in the summer peak season. We did not analyze holidays or peak events. Summer and Winter pedestrian counts were taken and they are included in the traffic analysis. The pedestrian counts showed in the peak hour, there are approximately 36 pedestrians crossing the north leg of the intersection (SR 267/SR 28 and Brassie Ave/SR 28) and 14 pedestrians crossing the west leg of the intersection (SR 28). There are 40 pedestrians walking past the intersection along the southern side of SR 28, however, this movement does not disrupt traffic. The analysis shows that traffic will still operate acceptably with the volume of cars and pedestrians. The pedestrian volumes at this intersection are anticipated to be significantly lower than the pedestrian volumes in the Commercial Core based on pedestrian traffic counts Caltrans conducted in July of 2019. Those counts showed that there are on average 5 times more pedestrians crossing SR 28 in the commercial core than at the project location.
The current design includes rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) at the western crossing from Safeway to North Tahoe Beach. The RRFBs are push button activated (meaning a pedestrian has to push the button and wait for the lights to flash. The RRFBs do not stop pedestrians from crossing. At the roundabout, the eastern and western multi-lane crosswalks will include pedestrian signals. Other pedestrian signals that control pedestrian traffic at the other crosswalks were considered and may be installed in the future, if determined needed and approved by Caltrans.
- Has the County considered putting in flashing lights at the existing crosswalks to make pedestrians more visible to approaching traffic?
The crosswalks within the project limits (the midblock crosswalk at Safeway and two of the new crosswalks at the roundabout) will have RRFBs which are pedestrian activated flashing lights, and/or pedestrian signals. Additionally, the County will install clear signage warning drivers of pedestrians ahead.
- Why are there so many crosswalks in the roundabout? Can the design team eliminate the crosswalk on the east leg? Why are the crosswalks so close to the roundabout?
One of the stated purposes and needs of the project is to provide a complete street environment that makes biking and walking easier within the project limits. The goal of the roundabout crosswalks is to provide convenient and safe locations for pedestrians to cross traffic and best achieves this goal for not only pedestrians but also cyclists. The crosswalks serve a dual purpose, one for pedestrians and the other for cyclists who are not comfortable riding through the roundabout. These cyclists can exit the bicycle lane using the bike ramp and enter onto the shared use path/sidewalk to navigate around the roundabout. Not providing a crosswalk on the east leg would also add time/length to the walking and biking route. Providing crosswalks on the east leg also provides better connectivity to the sidewalk proposed along SR 267. It also provides connectivity for people coming off of the northern leg of Secline St. wishing to head to North Tahoe Beach or other designations on the south side of SR 28 a shorter and more direct SR. The County, however, has requested that Caltrans consider the removal of at least one crosswalk. This will be vetted during the design phase of the project.
The proposed sidewalk will be constructed on the east side of SR 267 only and will span from the intersection at SR 28 to Dolly Varden Ave where it will end.
- Is the project team going to coordinate with Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) for input on the project?
The project team will coordinate with TART since two bus stops will be impacted by the project. The stops will be enhanced with improved access for riders and for the buses by the project.
The existing roundabouts in the commercial core area are beyond the scope of this project. However, the County is working separately from this project to address this issue. For more information on the existing roundabouts please visit the Placer County website for detailed project information: Kings Beach Western Approach Project. You can also contact Andy Deinken, Placer County Project Manager, at (530) 581-6235.
Intersection signing must be compliant with the guidelines and standards set forth by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Typical signs that will be installed are roundabout ahead signs, yield signs, pedestrian crossing signs at the crosswalks, guide signs (roadway names) and the one-way signs in the central island. One overhead sign has been evaluated in the environmental document. During the design phase of the project the County will work with Caltrans and the design team to use a combination of roadside signs in place of the overhead signs.
With both alternatives emergency access will be preserved. The traffic analysis indicates the roundabout alternative will reduce overall intersection delay compared to the existing signal, therefore the roundabout is not anticipated to impact emergency response times. The modified signal alternative will increase delay over the existing signal conditions and may impact emergency response, however the implementation of bicycle lanes will allow emergency responders to use the bicycle lane to bypass traffic if needed. Given the current location of the fire station just north of the intersection, the roundabout alternative will improve access for the fire station.
- How will the proposed roundabout handle emergency vehicle traffic? How will traffic be handled in the event of an evacuation?
The roundabout has been designed with a larger inscribed circle diameter (ICD), allowing large vehicles to more easily traverse the intersection. Emergency vehicles may make use of the mountable apron around the center landscape island when necessary. Additionally, the North Tahoe Fire Protection District requested that the project design include an emergency traffic signal. The signal will be located on SR 267 in front of Station 52, to allow Fire Dept. equipment to readily enter the roadway as needed.
In the event of an emergency, SR 267 could be turned into a one-way roadway that would take the southbound lane and contraflow travel to the north providing two lanes northbound. SR 267 is a primary access route to and from the Kings Beach area. SR 267 has been identified in the Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Guide by North Tahoe Fire Protection District and Meeks Bay Fire Protection District in coordination with Cal Fire. During an emergency situation that requires evacuation of Kings Beach and the surrounding areas, the roundabout could accommodate a contraflow condition to feed SR 267. This would be achieved by channelizing westbound traffic to only make right turns to northbound SR 267. The eastbound traffic could be diverted to the westbound lane before the splitter island on the north side of the roundabout. The eastbound traffic could become contraflow through the roundabout and exit the roundabout into the southbound lane of SR 267 where they would travel northbound in the southbound lane. Brassie Avenue would be closed south of the golf course and vehicles could travel north to Tiger Way to SR 267 north of the project location.
Lighting will be similar to lighting at the existing roundabouts and will be finalized during the design phase.
- Why doesn’t the roundabout provide a bypass lane for WB SR 28 traffic turning right onto SR 267? That way traffic will not have to yield at the roundabout.
Adding a bypass lane will significantly increase right of way impacts of the project. Also, a bypass lane configuration increases risk to pedestrians crossing the street since vehicles are not slowing down to yield at the roundabout. Additionally, the bypass lane would require a raised island to separate traffic and control speeds, which would impact snow removal operations and access to the two parcels on the northeast quadrant of the intersection. The design does provide a right turn lane for westbound SR 28 to minimize queueing and delay and provide acceptable levels of service at the whole intersection.
- Why does the project only propose one lane on SR 267 and one lane through the roundabout? Has traffic analysis been done on SR 267?
Traffic analysis shows queuing and delay on SR 267 within acceptable limits. Adding an additional lane to SR 267 would increase environmental and property impacts significantly while providing minimal benefit. The roundabout configuration prioritizes heavy movements to maximize capacity while limiting the number of driver conflicts. Additional lanes through the roundabout would increase the number of conflicts, increase environmental impacts, and increase the cost to build the project.
- What type of curbs will be used in the roundabout? The curbs at the existing roundabouts seem to get hit a lot.
The curbs used in the roundabout will need to meet Caltrans Standards and will likely vary based on the application and will be finalized during design. The curb selection type will take into account snow removal operations to minimize the damage sustained to them during snow removal operations.
Most of the damage at the existing roundabouts is likely caused by snowplows. At the proposed roundabout, the circulatory roadway is significantly larger. The larger circulatory roadway will provide more mobility for snow removal operations with less potential to damage the curbs.
Roundabouts have been widely constructed in states with snowy climates including California (Town of Truckee has several), Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The safety statistics of the roundabouts in these states show consistently positive results, despite the snowy climate.
The aesthetics for the roundabout will match the aesthetics of the KBCCIP. Sidewalks will be textured and colored, and landscaped areas will match the surrounding natural environment with planting and boulders. Splitter islands entering the roundabout will not have tall planting that will potentially block the drivers’ view of oncoming traffic or pedestrians.