Rail could be in Tahoe area’s future | NevadaAppeal.com

Rail could be in Tahoe area’s future

Gregory Crofton

Nearly everyone agrees something has to be done about the cars that clog Lake Tahoe’s South Shore on big weekends and holidays. Exhaust pollutes the air and the lake and detracts from the core of what Lake Tahoe needs to offer: serene natural beauty.

One of the organizations charged with protecting that serenity is the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Its new leader, John Singlaub, recognizes the problem, and says he is working to come up with answers.

“We have not done what we really need to be doing – getting people out of their cars and finding some alternative form of transit,” Singlaub said. “I don’t think we have a real vision of where we want to go.

“If we have any hope of having an Olympics near the lake, we’d have to deal with the gridlock. Right now, we can’t even handle Presidents Day weekend.”

Programs like BlueGo, a linked bus and shuttle system at South Shore, are a step in the right direction, Singlaub said. But overall, the traffic problems will likely get worse, he said.

“My hope is to have this vision in place by 2007,” Singlaub said. “We’ve even talked about making transportation a threshold.”

The target date is because by then TRPA plans to have updated its environmental goals for the basin and adopted a new 20-year regional plan.

Key places for transit links would be Truckee and Carson City, Singlaub said.

Power to run the trains could be purchased from hydroelectric producers in the American River Canyon, Henriolle said, or from hydrogen.

Chris Swan, 58, of San Francisco owns a company called Suntrain. He said if trains were installed at Tahoe, they could be powered through a combination of solar energy and fuel cells.

Solar energy would be used to drip a tank of water into hydrogen and oxygen. If a fuel cell is run on hydrogen, its “exhaust” is water, Swan said.