Federal Agency Dismisses Complaint Against Kings Beach Project

The Federal Highway Administration dismissed a complaint recently against the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project in Placer County.

“The agency’s ruling is important, because it removes a cloud hanging over a project that is vital to the future of Kings Beach,” Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said. “We knew the complaint was without merit, and were glad to see the Federal Highway Administration agree with us.”

Supervisor Montgomery represents North Lake Tahoe on the Placer County Board of Supervisors.

The project’s goals include improving the clarity of Lake Tahoe’s water by reducing pollutants in stormwater runoff; providing better, safer pedestrian and bicycle access; and enhancing the character of the community’s business district. The project will revitalize a 1.1-mile section of State Route 28 through the heart of Kings Beach on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore.

Work on the first phase of the project began this summer. The first phase is focused on the installation of traffic circles, speed humps and other neighborhood traffic-calming improvements that the community has supported strongly.

The Placer County Public Works Department is the lead agency on the project. It is working with a long list of partner agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and California Department of Transportation.

Filed by the California League of United Latin American Citizens, the complaint alleged that the project would have a negative impact on the community’s Hispanic residents, particularly those who live in and near the project area.

Brenda F. Armstead, the FHWA’s director of investigations and adjudications, issued the federal agency’s decision to dismiss the complaint in a seven-page letter to Caltrans.

The letter says the FHWA’s investigation found no evidence to support the complaint. “This concludes processing of this complaint and no further action will be taken by the FHWA,” Armstead said.

Caltrans was named in the complaint because the FHWA had delegated oversight of the project to the state agency.

“From the beginning, Placer County’s goal was to develop a project that would benefit all of Kings Beach, including the business district, residents in nearby neighborhoods and tourists who visit the community,” said Supervisor Montgomery. “Our commitment to protecting the community is the reason the project’s first phase is focused on the traffic-calming improvements.”

The Public Works Department’s partners on the $48 million include the FHWA, Caltrans, the Placer County Redevelopment Agency, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, U.S. Forest Service, California Tahoe Conservancy and North Tahoe Business Association.

The project will change the highway from a four-lane thoroughfare with traffic signals to a three-lane roadway with roundabouts. The change will provide more room for sidewalks and bike lanes.

Numerous public meetings and substantial public input led to approval of the thee-lane hybrid alternative.

The project will help improve water quality by reducing the flow of sediment from the commercial core area into the lake.

The 1,800- page draft environmental impact document for the project was released by Placer County in the spring of 2007. After a public comment period and multiple public meetings and workshops, the county received 500 pages of comments. Those comments and the responses were incorporated into the final document, which totaled 3,200 pages and was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2008.