In a meeting at Douglas High School on Thursday, Nevada Department of Transportation officials explained the plans to perform significant structural repairs and safety repairs on Kingsbury Grade. In a project lasting 1.5 years, traffic will be restricted to one lane between Memorial and Labor days, with up to 30 minute delays.
However, before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, NDOT will close Kingsbury Grade just east of Tramway. Residents of the valley who need access to Stateline or South Lake Tahoe will be forced to take highway 395 north to highway 50, then head south on the lake side of 50. For round trip commuters, this extra mileage will cost each driver well over $2000 over the life of the project, based on federal mileage reimbursement rates. This does not include lost hours spent commuting and the very significant impact to businesses in Carson Valley. It’s like a tax that we didn’t have the opportunity to vote on, one that some cannot afford.
According to NDOT, a contracted outreach program contacted affected stakeholders last fall to determine the best way to proceed. There were two options considered: 1) a 3 year plan with full access over the summit, and 2) a 1.5 year plan with through traffic closed before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. NDOT stated the stakeholders preferred the 1.5 year plan. One would expect businesses on the lake side of Kingsbury grade to prefer the 1.5 year plan. 1.5 years of construction along your business frontage is preferable to 3 years of construction for most businesses in the affected zone.
Judging from the responses of businesses and residents during Thursday’s meeting in Douglas County, however, it seems clear that Carson Valley businesses, residents, and others needing to go over Kingsbury had little representation as “stakeholders” last fall when the studies were done. NDOT says that approximately one half of the 20,000 cars per day on Kingsbury Grade go up and over the top. We can calculate a total of over $10 million in additional cost to these drivers. Add to that the significant financial impact on business requiring access to the lake for themselves and their customers and it may be Carson Valley is paying as much for this project as NDOT is.
Although the contract for construction has already been awarded, and work is scheduled to begin May 1st, I urge residents and businesses in the valley to email NDOT at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to consider changing the plan to minimize impact to valley residents and businesses. Reference the Kingsbury Grade Pavement Reconstruction project in the subject line.