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South Lake Tahoe, Calif.- The five-year, $305 billion federal transportation bill passed by Congress and signed into law Friday, Dec. 4 by President Obama includes a provision that will steer additional money to Lake Tahoe communities for roadway improvements and enhanced public transit service.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is the first long-term federal transportation bill in nearly a decade. The bill will provide greater certainty and stability for state and local governments working to improve their transportation networks.

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Unlike other designated metropolitan planning areas, Lake Tahoe’s rural classification left it at a disadvantage for federal support due to a technical flaw in the rules. The new legislation amends current law and will steer formula based federal funding to Lake Tahoe for road improvements and transit service. This key measure will allow the Tahoe Transportation District and Tahoe communities to upgrade transportation infrastructure to improve the environment, enhance public recreation, and revitalize communities.

“This changes the metrics for us,” said Carl Hasty, the district manager of the Tahoe Transportation District. “The heavy urban use of the basin did not align with limited transportation funding so critical to the protection and vitality of Lake Tahoe.”

The diligent effort of the TTD to modify the status was supported by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and transportation partners as well as delegations from California and Nevada.

“This bill will help to create an inter-regional transit system in the next five years as well as corridor improvements related to safety, environment, economy, and quality of life,” said Hasty.

Research has proven Tahoe is one of the most heavily visited national forest areas. Previous studies also indicate that over 70 percent of the particulates impacting lake clarity originate from the transportation system and built environment. Fine sediment pollution from roads and developed areas is the leading cause of declines in Lake Tahoe’s famed water clarity. Vehicles are also a major source of emissions that pollute the air and fuel algae growth once in the Lake.

“For years, federal regulations have put Tahoe at a disadvantage because of our small, year-round population.  This bill changes important formulas to take into account the millions of people who visit Tahoe’s extensive public lands,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, executive director of TRPA. “TRPA and our transportation district partners have been working together with our congressional delegation for years on this critical fix in order to upgrade our transportation infrastructure and transit services.”

“Tahoe Transportation District’s leadership has redefined the approach and execution of projects in a timely manner,” said Carlos Monje Jr., assistant secretary for transportation policy at U.S. Department of Transportation. “We are looking forward to growing our partnerships with the Basin, and to additional projects in Nevada and California.”

The Tahoe Transportation District was created by a 1980 amendment to The Tahoe Regional Planning Compact, which created the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 1969. TRPA is the bi-state authority for establishing environmental thresholds, regulating, developing and integrating transportation with land use and environmental protection. TTD is the bi-state authority to implement transportation improvements and transit services including project development and construction to achieve thresholds and community goals for the region.

Lake-wide Transportation Project Updates

The TTD is currently guiding multiple projects providing lake wide connectivity throughout the Tahoe Basin to improve safety, mobility, and lake clarity while reducing traffic congestion. TTD secured the remaining $4.9 million in funding required for the $33 million State Route 89/Fanny Bridge Community Revitalization Project and Meeks Bay Trail Project. The Tahoe City plan at the intersection of state Routes 89 and 28 at the northwest corner of Lake Tahoe will include the replacement of Fanny Bridge as well as a new two-lane bridge.

US 50 South Shore Revitalization Project current proposal would realign US Highway 50 near the state line with four lanes along Lake Parkway East behind Harrah’s, MontBleu and the Village Shopping Center (formerly the Crescent V), while converting the artery through the South Lake Tahoe business and Stateline casino corridors into two lanes with turn pockets, with thoroughfares reconnecting at Pioneer Trail in California. The Environment Impact Study draft will be released in the first quarter of 2016 with public comment accepted 60 days following release, with the document finalized in the second quarter of 2016.

Previous projects included the Stateline-to-Stateline Bikeway, South Shore Demonstration Project, which built 2.3 miles shared-use bike path on the Nevada side at South Tahoe that connects Elks Point and Round Hill Pines and provides access to Rabe Meadow with Nevada Beach and Round Hill Pines Resort. Eventually the Stateline-to-Stateline Bikeway will span 30 miles and connect Stateline, Nevada to Crystal Bay, Nevada.

The Incline Gateway, the Tahoe Basin’s first roundabout at Mount Rose Highway where State Route 28 meets State Route 431, was officially dedicated October 17, 2012.

The East Shore Express, a Park and Ride bus service from Incline Village to Sand Harbor Beach State Recreation Area, has generated more than 18,400 rides between June 15 and Labor Day in 2015.

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