Transportation Improvements for Tahoe Basin Threatened According to TTD

April 19, 2011(Stateline, Nev.) – The Tahoe Transportation District (TTD) is on the brink of becoming an unfortunate casualty of legislation proposed to withdraw Nevada from the bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Compact with California. The unintended consequence of Nevada Senate Bill 271 will be a direct threat to over 400 million dollars programmed over the next five years for vital transportation improvements that will connect communities within the Tahoe Basin and further protect the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

SB-271 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).

“I attended the recent hearing on the bill and understand the frustration with the State of California and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) expressed by the committee,” said Carl Hasty, TTD District Manager. “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,” he said.

In 1980, Public Law 96-551 passed by the US Congress amended the 1969 Compact between Nevada and California which established the TRPA. Article IX of this law created the TTD as an independent agency within the Compact. TTD is charged with facilitating and implementing safe, environmentally beneficial, multi-modal transportation programs and projects for the entire Tahoe Basin in both Nevada and California.

A primary funding source for TTD projects comes from the Federal Highways Administration through the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization (TMPO), 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 TTD and TMPO would no longer exist.

The 2010 “Maximum Daily Load Report” published by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the California Water Quality Control Board, Lahontan Region, documents that 70 percent of fine sediment and particulates clouding Lake Tahoe are a direct result of the region’s 20th Century transportation system.

“TDD’s outlook is to the future. 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,” said Hasty. “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 TTD currently operatesBlueGo, 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 South Shore in both Nevada and California; and the California Highway 89/Fanny Bridge Community Revitalization project in Tahoe City. TTD is currently evaluating feasibility for a Lake Tahoe “aquabus,” a trans-lake passenger ferry service between the north and south shores, and potentially connected to smaller water taxis for shorter trips.

These projects will benefit all Nevada and California residents and visitors,” said Hasty. “However, without a fully functioning TTD and TMPO, there is very little likelihood that any of them will be accomplished.”