Tahoe transportation district could disappear in TRPA divorce

By April 21, 2011

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The Tahoe Transportation District could lose $400 million for transportation improvements at Lake Tahoe over the next five years if Nevada withdraws from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, its director has said.

“I attended the recent hearing on the bill and understand the frustration with the state of California and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency expressed by the committee,” said District Manager Carl Hasty. “When such frustration leads to hurried action, more problems can be created than solved. There are clearly problems to be resolved, some sooner than others. We welcome the spotlight that the bill shines on these problems, but we are concerned it may cause more uncertainty and confusion and eliminate worthwhile projects. Rational discussion involving all parties, and a timeline for resolving major issues, may be a more constructive way to proceed.”

Hasty said the unintended consequence of Senate Bill 271, which would remove Nevada from the bi-state compact that founded the TRPA will be a threat to federal funding for the transportation district.

The bill was introduced by Nevada state senators John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, and James Settelmeyer, R- Capital Senatorial District. The bill is co-sponsored by Assembly members Kelly Kite, R-Minden, Pat Hickey, R- Reno, and Randy Kirner, R-Reno.

Hasty said the federal law that established the TRPA also created the transportation district as an independent agency. The district’s primary funding source is federal highway funds funneled through the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization, a federal transportation planning authority tied to the compact in 1997. Should Nevada withdraw from the compact, the flow of these funds would cease because the district and the planning organization would no longer exist, Hasty said.

“The district’s outlook is to the future,” Hasty said. “The projects proposed and developed by the agency and its many partners are vital to protect and enhance Lake Tahoe while improving mobility in the 21st century and beyond. Those living and working in the Basin and visitors from all over the world will be losers in the long run if projects are put on hold or never completed.”

The district operates BlueGo, a bi-state transit service and has several projects in the planning and development stage.

Those projects include a bikeway on the Nevada side of Tahoe, anchored by a roundabout and related improvements at the intersection of Nevada State Route 28 and the Mount Rose Highway; the U.S. Highway 50 Stateline Community Revitalization project, a centerpiece for the transformation of Stateline in both Nevada and California; and the California Highway 89/Fanny Bridge Community Revitalization project in Tahoe City.

However, without a fully functioning transportation district and planning organization, there is very little likelihood that any of them will be accomplished.”

Tahoe Tribune

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