South Lake council to finance work for Highway 50 project |

South Lake council to finance work for Highway 50 project

Susan Wood

Looking to 2006, the South Lake Tahoe City Council committed Tuesday to finding a way to finance maintenance of Highway 50 improvements.

More than a decade in the works, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency cautioned the council that it may lose critical project funding to construct the $30 million “curb and gutter.”

Charles Emmett, who works in the TRPA Environmental Improvement Program division, said $4 million from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act could be lost “without cooperation” in maintenance duties such as snow blowing and mowing.

“It’s hard to secure this level of funding without it,” he said.

The high-profile project, which is supported by several agencies, calls for a massive overhaul of 3.7 miles of Highway 50 from Ski Run Boulevard to Trout Creek. It includes curbs and gutters, stormwater collection, a 4 1/2-foot-wide sidewalk, lighting, a widening of the bike trail, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps and landscaping.

With a deepening budget shortfall facing the city, Public Works Director Brad Vidro needed to know if the council considered it a priority project.

The council told Vidro to return with financing options and a time line. Ideas include forming a landscaping and lighting district or a business improvement district.

“We’re not taxing our way out of this,” Mayor Tom Davis said.

The council appeared sensitive to a sales tax increase coming before voters, shortly after the city raised business license fees and the motel-room tax.

“I think the responsibility should be shared by the city,” Councilwoman Judy Brown said.

Vidro figured maintenance may require an annual match from the city from $197,000 to $279,000.

The improvement district is due to make the Aug. 17 council meeting.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at