Every summer the population at Lake Tahoe grows by up to five times its normal size.
The problem started decades ago, when public employees designed the highways and city streets but forgot to plan for higher population levels and didn’t realize that miles of pavement would funnel an unprecedented amount of sediment into the lake.
Now, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) will fix those problems once and for all by building a wall and a high-speed rail system around the lake, restoring Tahoe’s world-famous clarity.
“You won’t be able to actually see the lake from the train, but you will be able to get from North Shore to South Shore in twelve minutes,” said TRPA spokesman Tom Lotshaw. “And that’s with several stops along the way. Once you reach your destination, it will be only a short walk to the top of the wall.”
Circumnavigating the lake by car currently takes more than two hours with moderate traffic, and the area has to deal with almost three million cars a year. The train will speed travelers to selected destinations (see map) at 180 mph.
The railway will be finished first, funded in Nevada by a 10 percent tax on gambling winnings. California has not yet identified a funding source for its half. The wall will be funded by savings generated by the high speed rail system.
“This project was approved through a series of mysteries, miracles, and prayers,” said California Gov. Jerry Brown. “We still don’t know how we’re going to pay for it, but Keeping Tahoe Blue is a high priority for all Californians.”
When asked if the wall would exclude people from actually enjoying the lake, Brown countered, saying, “If anyone objects, we might extend that wall to exclude them from the rest of California. By the way, that’s a joke. We prefer trains.”
The decision to build high-speed rail and a wall represents a “bundled approach to recreation access, safety, water quality, transportation, and participatory democracy,” according to a TRPA brochure. “Central planners are planning to plan a road on top of the wall to increase pedestrian, bicycle, and electric scooter access, and high-speed elevators will get these visitors to lake level in record time.”
Future plans include train tunnels from Sacramento and Reno to link up with THSRS, boosting tourism to the area by a predicted order of magnitude.