Keep Hwy 50
four lanes

What’s the plan? Road Diets and Bike Lanes — The NDOT / TRPA Corridor Management Plan.

Tahoe East Shore Alliance Keep Hwy 50 four lanes
Photo by Crystal Ricotta, Summer 2023

KEEP hwy 50 four LANES – What’s the Plan?

Road Diets and Bike Lanes, The NDOT / TRPA Corridor Management Plan  

NDOT’s plan to remove two of four lanes of Hwy 50’s east shore corridor was first rolled out in 2017. When 200+ residents showed up to protest, NDOT retreated to Carson City. In ’22 they returned to the Lake with the same basic Corridor Management Plan 2.0  to reduce large sections of the 13-mile corridor from Stateline to Spooner Summit to two lanes with a center turning lane,  sometimes referred to as a suicide lane for the dangers posed by drivers misusing the lane to circumvent traffic gridlock. In traffic vernacular, this is called a road diet.

“Traffic calming essentially calls for worse-designed roads to force people to slow down. This will increase accidents. For every pedestrian whose life is saved by traffic calming, more than thirty people will die due to delays to emergency service vehicles.”
~Fire Dept, Austin, TX


Where does the bike lane fit in?

The hidden-in-plain-sight subtext of this radical reconfiguration is the drive to add a bike lane – or more precisely a bimodal path for bicycles, wheelchairs and other favored forms of transit. This agenda is being advanced in lockstep by TRPA, regional cyclist organizations, and other groups/agencies around the Lake who are determined to insert their bike lane into the “new and improved” US 50 East Shore road system as a way of attracting more bike tourism to the basin. And more funding.

“Most auto-bicycle accidents happen at intersections, not from cyclists being hit by cars moving in the same direction as the bicycle. Yet, inflamed by an anti-auto mentality, bicycle proponents have focused their efforts on penalizing auto drivers and diverting auto lanes of travel to exclusive bike lanes.”
~John Forester, Vehicular Cycling Advocate

Where is the mandate for this radical reconfiguration coming from?

With millions of federal dollars at stake and increased federal and state pressure toward road-diets, community connectivity and bimodal transportation, this is a high stakes gambit to reimagine the only viable emergency evacuation corridor for south/east shore communities in order to accommodate more progressive transit concepts and ideologies. This is where the rubber meets the asphalt road. Will such self-indulgent ideologies take precedence over more practical considerations like fire evacuation?

“Traffic calming essentially calls for worse-designed roads to force people to slow down. This will increase accidents.”

“For every pedestrian whose life is saved by traffic calming, more than thirty people will die due to delays to emergency service vehicles.” ~Fire Dept, Austin, TX 

What about evacuation?

In the face of increasingly intense and destructive fire patterns, including Camp/Paradise, Dixie, August Complex and more, new requirements of roadway-by-roadway evacuation capacity evaluations to be conducted prior to agency approvals of new building or road construction projects have been largely ignored by TRPA and other agencies. Despite grand jury recommendations, California AG guidelines, and CEQA requirements, new projects get rubber stamped and put through with little or no evaluation of impacts on environment, evacuation routes and plans.

“Evacuation in Caldor worked fine north of Stateline.” ~Darin Tedford

“Not only does road diet impede evacuation but also the ability for first responders to reach the scene. It’s a lose-lose.” ~Lake Tahoe resident

Has the hwy 50 East Shore Corridor been properly evaluated for evacuation capacity?

No. No systematic evaluation using state of the art modeling tools and technology has been used to assess existing or proposed US 50 configurations. Caldor was a wakeup call—evacuation plans and infrastructure did not function well. In fact one fire official has said, It was a disaster! And Caldor was not a worst case scenario. Yet NDOT insists that “evacuation worked just fine north of Stateline.” With fire risk at an all time high and 750,000 burn piles stacked around the Basin, we are not well situated to handle the non-virtual evacuation of many thousands of residents and visitors in a wildfire event.

“Even before the fire we wondered what the hell they were thinking.” ~Paradise resident

The Choice?

NDOT is not offering a choice. But we the people must demand the option to preserve the only evacuation route we have in the event of wildfire. Safety improvements can and should be made on US 50 that address root causes and not red herrings: speed monitors, better signage, law enforcement, traffic lights. In the final analysis, we believe the risks of inadequate evacuation far outweigh the benefits of a bi-modal bike path.

East Shore residents have been asking NDOT for serious modeling and simulation to demonstrate safety benefits of CMP. Here is their response.

care to comment

What are your thoughts on the NDOT/TRPA plans for a road diet on US HWY 50?