SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - An annual gathering of Tahoe's leaders is an opportunity for pivotal transportation concerns to be addressed, according to Carl Hasty, District Manager, Tahoe Transportation District.
The 15th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit will convene federal, state and local leaders Tuesday at Homewood Mountain Resort.
Tahoe's transportation systems could lose funding for projects as a result of both Nevada Senate Bill 271 and the inaction on reauthorization of the transportation bill in Washington.
SB-271 is legislation that could sever ties between Nevada and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, thereby jeopardizing federal transportation funding, Hasty said.
"We need to examine immediate and long-term options to guarantee the safety, economic and environmental impacts of the legislation," Hasty said.
Hosted by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., with appearances from the governors of California and Nevada, the conference will focus on restoration of the lake. The theme of the Summit is "Stewardship and Sustainability in Challenging Fiscal Times."
"While the spotlight is focused on Lake Tahoe it's imperative that we present the concerns and realities related to transportation issues here," Hasty said.
Transportation systems cause up to 70 percent of the particulates that affect lake clarity, Hasty said.
"The need for a joint regional effort is obvious," Hasty said. "As a major tourism destination for residents of our respective states, it's imperative that we work together and develop a stronger and unified voice for our regional transportation needs."
Focusing on Tahoe's transportation could also bring jobs to the area, Hasty said. For each $1 billion of federal spending on highway construction nationwide, nearly 28,000 jobs are generated annually, including about 9,500 in the construction sector, about 4,300 jobs in industries supporting the construction sector, and about 14,000 other jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy, according to a Federal Highway Administration study.
Improvements on roads, highways and bridges also benefit drivers. Each $1 spent on those improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
"In order to realize the region's potential for economic growth and environmental sustainability, the region will need to improve the conditions of its roadways, bike trails and public transit systems," Hasty said. "Making needed improvements to the transportation system will help support future expansion and competition to help ensure we remain an attractive place to live, visit and do business."
Hasty stressed the need for immediate action toward long-term solutions. According to Hasty it takes 7-10 years to build a road and the consequences of postponing construction can cause continued erosion of infrastructure beyond repair, as well as safety concerns for increased accidents, crumbling roads and bridge disintegration.
"Tahoe Transportation District is focusing on creating public awareness of the area's looming transportation predicament and paying close attention to all ongoing funding discussions to advocate specific solutions," Hasty said. "It will take a cooperative endeavor from various sectors: government, business and the public. While our elected officials have the power to address these issues to make our roads and highways safer, we also need citizens to participate to affect changes."