Public given opportunity to come up with loop road ideas

By Kathryn Reed

With pens in hand, people started drawing what they thought would be the best route for a loop road at the South Shore’s state line. At the other end of the table a container was filling up with those casting a vote for there never to be a loop road beyond what exists today.

Tuesday’s meeting at Lake Tahoe Community College was a bit of a do-it-yourself exercise instead of having people talk ad nauseam.

People have multiple choices for what a loop road could look like on the South Shore. Photos/Kathryn Reed

Along the walls was information detailing the history of the road that dates to the 1970s. At that time the road was to be an actual loop around the backsides of the Stateline casinos. The most recent official drawings have the road only going on the mountain side – behind Harrah’s and MontBleu.

A long table had placemat size renderings of 16 alternatives. At each one was a bucket of sorts where people could cast up to two votes for their preferred alternative(s). Those not wanting change could put their chip(s) in the 17th container.

Plenty of other people came up with suggestions that were unique or melded alternatives already on the table.

People were also asked to list their top three goals of a loop road or offer new ones. The 12 that were listed, that consultants said came from the community, were:

• Decrease traffic congestion • Improve pedestrian-bike facilities • Safer streets • Increase access to amenities • Better pedestrian amenities • Fulfill requirements of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Compact and area plans • Better pedestrian lighting • Have advanced forms for transportation • Encourage special events • Increase air-water quality • Improve economy • Enhance community and tourist experiences.

Some people read the list and wondered who came up with those and why people aren’t trying to achieve them even without a loop road.

Wood Rodgers is the consulting firm hired by the Tahoe Transportation District to cull all the information and run the workshops. TTD is the lead agency for the loop road.

Several people drew alternatives not already provided by planners.

While the bulk of the businesses and residents that could be displaced are in South Lake Tahoe, this project could go through even if the City Council doesn’t want it.

Proponents of a loop road want to turn the current state highway into a city street so the state line area – which includes California and Nevada – would be more pedestrian friendly. Highway 50 would be routed behind the casinos in Nevada and through existing neighborhoods and/or businesses in California.

For those who want some sort of rerouting of the highway, it’s the “where does it go in California?” that causes the most consternation. To this date, consensus has been elusive.

“We want to quantify what we’ve heard from the community,” Mark Rayback with Wood Rodgers told Lake Tahoe News.

His team will do that by coalescing the written comments, looking at which alternatives are most popular, and taking the similarities of what has been suggested to come up with what the public deems the top priorities.

A second meeting like the one Oct. 30 will be conducted Nov. 7 from 1-3pm at Embassy Suites in South Lake Tahoe. It will be the same format.

It’s possible at the Dec. 14 TTD board meeting that someone from Wood Rodgers would present a summary of findings, but with no action to be taken.

In the first quarter of 2013 a design charette is likely to occur. From there, four alternatives – though that number is not definite – could be chosen to be studied via environmental documents.





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Comments (38)
  1. Bob says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    I didn’t realize this ideaa has been on the drawing board for over 30 yrs. From talking with some of the TTD members it sounds like this opportunity has kept them in a job at taxpayer expense. Also reminds me of the public meeting for the Sawmill/Lake Tahoe Blvd bikepath. All ideas are funneled into what the makers have already decided will take place under the deception the public had their input. The country is broke. I’m tired of my tax dollars supporting people who can’t get a real job. I threw my chips in the basket saying STAY AS IS – NO Loop Rd.

  2. 30yrlocal says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    Bob…even longer. Had friends who sold their house in 73 because of the talk of their neighborhood off Pioneer being taken down for a road. But, it hasn’t always been in the hands of TTD.

    Tahoe Transportation District does much more than this idea. They run Blue Go, they have all sides of the lake’s bike paths to work on, the shuttle bus from Incline to Sand Harbor and more. I think it’s a pretty nasty comment to say that the people that work there can’t get a real job….this is a real job.

  3. lou pierini says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    After Tahoe Meadows was off the table, they were declared a historical site when the loop was going through their property, so TTD (thats really TRPA) should get a new mission, and stay over in NV. for a while.

  4. lou pierini says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    OH, buy the way the property east of tahoe meadows is owned by a nv. Douglas County elected official,so you know the will not mention that property or official.

  5. Careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    Really wanted to go to this, but it was too early in the evening, had barely got home and had to make dinner.

    Next meeting I am out of town :(

    Wish I had me one of those maps!

  6. lou pierini says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    New route through the Holday Inn express and behind The V center on the west add both hook up with the existing loop roads now.

  7. 30yrlocal says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    One reason they have an alternative to the routes to reduce the cost of buying out the affected properties. Buying out motels will cost a lot more than homes perhaps?

  8. Dan Murray says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    What would be wrong with simply keeping the current Hwy 50 but undergrounding that portion that runs by the casinos AND building a pedestrian mall over it ? While it would cost a lot for engineering, concrete, and construction, wouldn’t it be possibly cheaper and less intrusive than using eminent domain to procure properties for the Loop Road?

    Unless there are more underground obstructions other than the Harrah’s Casino walkway to consider(which could become an elevated walkway or a surface walkway), it seems fairly feasible.

    With today’s sophisticated tunneling equipment, underground boring and construction could likely be done without any disruption to current traffic along Hwy 50. The only obvious disruption would be the need for an access point and an egress point for the tunneling equipment.

    Caltrans certainly has experience with this type of work as they are currently wrapping up construction of the Devil’s Slide By-Pass Tunnel in San Mateo County.

  9. Chief Slowroller says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    Smoke and Mirrors

    its going to happen

    $10.00 says it goes right thru the Bottle Shop

    Wood Rodgers are they related to Norm Woods?

  10. sunriser2 says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    I forget the gentleman’s name but I would like to hear from the manager of the crescent V center again. He seemed to be the only grown-up in the room.

    His comments on the demographics research of the national chains being subcontracted and the commercial floor space absorption rates were light years ahead of the Green/Gov BS that’s being set forth.

  11. ljames says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    a tunnel alternative (mentioned above) certainly seems like a alternative that should be explored. And that starts o be a true alternative, rather than lets build a loop road, all we have to do is decide where. That certainly is narrow thinking and makes one wonder what the real agendas are – a tunnel alternative also seems to be the only one that readily comes to mind that could pay many of the proposed benefits with very little of the adverse neighborhood impact. It may also yield to the fact that, indeed, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line! After all, loop road or not, the majority of traffic on Hwy 50 is pass thru!

  12. Monica says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    I would really love to hear some constructive ideas and comments about making this happen. Communities with thriving downtowns have pride and a sense of place. Some form of loop road or tunnel could facilitate better traffic flow and more business for our downtown area. Both CA and NV could win and the residents have something to be proud of and something our tourists could enjoy. I’m glad TTD is doing their homework and facilitating ideas from the community. It’s been too long to act, I agree – but let’s move forward and stop looking back.

  13. gravity addicts anonymous says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    TRPA wont allow a tunnel.. you crazy.. I hate driving through the casino corridor. Granola eating hippies hate on the loop road all you want. wont matter.

  14. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    Loop road? From my perspective a bad idea on many counts.Several businesses in the area will go broke from this and many homeowners and renters lose their homes.
    Lets see…just follow the money. Who is to gain from this proposed project? The casinos and Edgewood! Who’s to lose ? South Lake Tahoe, its residents and
    business owners. But then maybe thats been the plan all along. Strangle SLT into a place where everyone is already struggling to get by and they have to move away so the wealthy out of towners can buy up property for their vacation homes.
    Something smells here. We already have a loop road! It’s not perfect but it works. Who has oversight over TTD? Is the City Council so powerless that it can’t prevent this fiasco so we don’t end up with another “Hole”?
    More people moving away, more empty stores and restaurants on 50 if this loop road goes aheead as is planned.
    I wonder, could there be some kickbacks involved here to certain officials and govt. agencies?
    Old Timer Long Skiis.

  15. Tom Wendell says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    Well said Monica! All the benefits you listed (local pride, sense of place, improved traffic flow and business, win-win for CA. & NV.) are spot-on. Perhaps most important is the need to LOOK FORWARD. A constructive, solution-oriented dialogue involving the entire community is what is needed. The Loop Road debate is a major topic here in SLT and one that (along with the Hole and general transportation woes) presents an opportunity for not only much needed change, but actual transformation. Making the transition from a struggling, partially deteriorating mountain resort stuck in a 70′s time warp that has lost what was once its’ primary economic driver (gaming) —–to an outdoor recreation / special event / green technology / health and wellness dominated resort of the 21st Century is bound to generate some widely divergent opinions.

    One thing is certain…we cannot simply go with the status quo. It should be abundantly clear to everyone who has interest in the future sustainability of the Lake Tahoe Basin and SLT in particular, that a transition to a more viable and sustainable economic and environmental model is both mandatory and inevitable.
Those who advocate for small, incremental or virtually no change are simply not seeing the big picture. Change IS the only constant in life and change has been difficult to come by in these parts due to a combination of the poor planning of the past combined with cumbersome, often conflicting regulations of the more recent past and present. The need to change has been recognized by virtually all stakeholders (citizens, visitors, governments, agencies, business and environmental interests). Yet, while our competitors for tourism are busy reinventing themselves, we are still squabbling over how or even if to evolve.

    If these and other critical issues and challenges confronting the Lake Tahoe Basin concern you and you have some constructive, solution-oriented ideas to share, I invite you to weigh in on a newly launched blog: Transforming Tahoe. The purpose of the blog is to gather community sourced ideas to address the problems and challenges that confront the entire basin. Whether it’s about the Loop Road, the Hole, Homewoood Ski Area expansion or proposed bans on plastic shopping bags in SLT, please share your ideas at:

    A quick comment on the tunneling option. While the idea should be on the table as an alternative, I keep seeing images of New York and all the underground facilities that are flooded and unusable. A big snow storm followed by torrential rain like what happened during the New Years flood of ’97 makes me think that option could be very problematic. With the ‘old’ alignment now being more pedestrian oriented, traffic would have to be routed onto current city streets. We saw how well THAT worked out with the Opening Day Celebration road closure fiasco…. UNLESS we had an option to by-pass the a Loop which case the tunnel would be redundant..OR..a designated truck route?

    p.s. sunrider2, The owner of the Crescent V (Village Center) is Terry Hackett and yes, his comments to the City Council were very well informed.

  16. lou pierini says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    30 year, 10 rooms and parking lot.

  17. former supporter says - Posted: November 1, 2012


  18. Bob says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    You’re right 30 yr. Sorry for the comment. Previously I believe it was in the hands of the TRPA. The other projects you mentioned actually sound better for where the money should be slated – bike trails around the Lake and public transportation. Not sure why TTD would take on a 30+ yr dream and waste time at public expense, especially when there are so many other projects which could generate local dollars and jobs.

  19. Careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    I think the tunnel option is the best option. Maybe they can get additional funding based on the avoided displacing of residents and businesses.

    I’m sure the tunnel could be designed to deal with water table, snow melt, and any other possibles, there are tunnels that actually travel underwater great distances, and they had the ingenuity to design them.

    The Chunnel is a 31 mile underwater tunnel

    Our little tunnel would be a piece of cake in comparison ;)

    From Lake Pkwy & Hwy 50 to Park Ave & Hwy 50 is 0.7 miles, maybe some extra length to compensate for the depth.

    If the tunnel exited at Friday Ave & Hwy 50 (right across from the Gondola),this would be a 0.5 mile length tunnel.

    I think this would make a lot more people come on board for the project, not all, but at least more.

    The only people I could see who would not like this option, would be those who stand to sell land for the widening of Lake Pkwy behind the casinos.

    We would still need to do improvements to Lake Pkwy on both sides, as they would need to be developed as main entrances to the now accessed via hwy 50 properties.

    A tunnel also keeps the beauty of the Mountain side (Van Sickle), and keeps the traffic from getting to heavy on the lake side. Only people who are going to casino corridor properties would use these side streets, the rest would just cruise through the tunnel. This would create a very nice village atmosphere, by keeping the sights and sounds of vehicles muffled, and out of sight.

    This is doable.

  20. John says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    Bob, so you suggest that a bike trail that can be used a couple months out of the year would generate more income than being able to have events downtown? How do you figure?

  21. sunriser2 says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    If you look at the struggles to acquire the financing to complete a SMALL portion of the hole in the ground it seems like a pipe dream that money would be available for any of proposed improvements.

    We already have open air pedestrian and bike friendly areas at the Marriott, Ski Run and Embassy. Do we really need more? I still don’t get the obsession to close HWY 50?

    I can hardly wait to see the studies showing how the new Tahoe South program, sidewalks and bike trails increased business last summer. No one will address the fact that for the first time in three years the highways leading to Tahoe were open.

  22. John says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    sunriser2, how come you anti-loop folks refuse to talk about the ability to hold major events that are currently impossible. Its like if you refuse to talk about it then it doesnt exist.

  23. Hang Ups From Way Back says - Posted: November 1, 2012


    Big Money Rules,we all know that if you been here any amount years,it’s not what the public thinks or wants,its so you aren’t kept in the dark when you see taxes,maintenance and all the things progress cost you some how or another.

    My Opinion is just leave it all alone,do something with that eye sore hole,or make amends to cover,seal, go from there.

    I can’t tell you how many visitors asked me at the freakier ball,when they going to do something with that hole?If I got 5 bucks for every time I tell them the story I have a huge bar tab at the clubs with comp tickets to the best Shows,no kidding.

  24. Tiara Wasner says - Posted: November 1, 2012


    As the Community Outreach Specialist for the US/50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project, please know that we appreciate the feedback and also invite you to join us at the next Public Workshop Wednesday, Nov. 7, 1-3 p.m. at Embassy Suites – Tallac Ballroom.

    During the workshop you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the project, various alternatives (including the tunnel alternative — workshop maps 10 & 11) and talk directly with Tahoe Transportation District representatives about your ideas and opinions. If you have any other questions or comments please email us at [email protected].

    Thank you,


  25. TeaTotal says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    I’ve been to many “major events” at Stateline. From Elvis at Del Webbs Sahara in the 70’s to Neil Young and Crazy Horse a couple months ago. We can and have done bigtime car shows and rib cookoffs, nationally televised golf tournaments, conventions of every sort and on and on. What other kinds of things are you talking about John? I think we can only get so many people in and out of here for events in a timely tourist friendly manner with our mountain location, loop road or not.

  26. DAVID DEWITT says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    What is the problem with not being able to hold major events as a local i could care less about major events it just means that i have to put up with traffic problems and pay for there ability to cause them. If the high rollers want a loop road all they have to do is pay for it out of there own pocket. Just leave me out of it.

  27. John says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    TeaTotal, the golf is great. The concerts are much smaller than an entire festival, Snowglobe or more to my taste a jazz festival. The car shows are extremely limited here. There is no room. The bottom line is events can replace the visitors lost to the decline in gambling.

    David, you might think about moving to an area that is not an internation tourist resort destination. As a local I do care because our town is dieing. It is going to get worse because the grant money that kept it alive over the last ten years is also gone.

  28. sunriser2 says - Posted: November 1, 2012


    Harvey’s doesn’t need to close the road to hold successful outdoor events. How come we need to close the road for a chili cook off?

    Except for the car show and the outdoor concerts most of the events look like they belong at that flea market in Roseville.

    Look at Bill’s all they need is a couple more tacky signs.

    Has anyone looked into why the outdoor pedestrian friendly outdoor venues (complete with near worthless transit centers) in Sparks and Reno have failed?

    I hope that someday the Van Sickle Park will grow to be as successful as the white water river access and park in down town Reno.

    Promote what you already have. Great park with GREAT PARKING within walking and bicycling distance from thousands of hotel rooms.

  29. Dick Fox says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    Les Wright’s Lake Tahoe Marathon is the type of already successful event I’d like to see promoted more and possibly be the anchor for a multi-weekend long Tahoe Outdoors schedule of events including our world class disc golf course, world class bicycle races that Curtis Fong invented, softball tournaments could be a huge money making deal and new stuff like the cool Paddle Board state of the art people and venue we have. If things like Snow Globe can be done at the College, it can be done elsewhere in the basin.

  30. sunriser2 says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    I agree Dick.

    We paid through the nose for these facilities. We should get our monies worth out of them.

    Add in swim meets, ice-skating, and a world-class track.

    I think we need better parking at the trailheads off of HWY 89 and then call it done for a few years.

  31. Dick Fox says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    Geez, I forgot to mention the ice rink and the track and I had both in my original thoughts, both top-notch facilities… I’m getting old + I guess it’s true about that short term memory loss~

  32. Irish Wahini says - Posted: November 1, 2012

    I think it would be good to think “out of the box”. Sunset Magazine just had a great article about the success of Boulder, CO — maybe we could learn some lessons from successful developments that parallel SLT. Turn LTCC into a university and make SLT a Boulder-like fun place to visit. The casino world is passe and could be turned into something functional — like a campus for high-tech/biotech, etc. Look to communities that are somewhat like SLT, that have become inventive and successful!

  33. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: November 2, 2012

    I find it unfortunate that so few people understand the concept and importance of planning. Planning is necessary for the short, mid and long term, and for the City of South Lake Tahoe it’s obvious that historically very little if any attention was paid to long-term planning for the future of this community. Had that been a consideration we wouldn’t have this Loop Road situation we’re faced with today and there would have been an established and operating Plan B if the gaming industry tanked and the South Shore community lost their only economic engine leading to economic failure. But the past is just that, and lamenting what should have been done and pointing fingers doesn’t move anything forward. Certain constants in life are that nobody gets to go back, things change, and it’s wise to prepare as best we can for future changes. Doing nothing is not preparing for future change; that’s merely treading water and staying in the same place, and it’s not moving forward or planning for and directing changes we have control over.

    People in this community who want things to go back to how they were 20 or 30 years ago need to accept the reality that that’s not going to happen, and we need to realistically plan for the future of this community if it is to survive.

    I don’t know what the answer is to the Loop Road, but I do know that something needs to change and be done now in preparation for the future. And for those people who want to go back or think things are OK right now, well you can’t go back and it won’t be OK in years to come. It’s time to play catch-up and accept that some real planning for this community needs to occur if the South Shore is to survive and if we want to leave some degree of prosperity to the children of this community.

  34. lou pierini says - Posted: November 2, 2012

    Bob, The TTD is the TRPA they just don’t mention it.

  35. John says - Posted: November 2, 2012

    Irish, biotech works in Boulder because they have one of the largest medical research universities in the world. You need that to have the workforce in order to attract the businesses. There is a reason silicone valley is where it is…Stanford. CU alone has a student population of 30,000 kids. How does that fit with Tahoe?

  36. Bill Swim says - Posted: November 2, 2012

    How about……NO!

  37. DAVID DEWITT says - Posted: November 2, 2012

    This town is not dieing the people who are running it are killing it. I have owned a home here for over 20 years and thing are changing alright we are becoming a second home area. And the second home people could care less about special events. It would be nice if we could fix the roads and not worry about the next big event. Things change but the local government is stuck in a rut they do not understand reality.

  38. Mike Filce says - Posted: November 3, 2012

    I admittedly don’t know enough about the issue, but I do feel it’s time we stop our recent history of abusing eminent domain without proven benefits to all. Any gains by the new feature are outweighed by the irreparable damage done to families and businesses under the guise of progress. Didn’t stateline corridor teach us anything?