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Transportation conundrums

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LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. — Like everywhere else, roads and streets around Lake Tahoe are congested with cars, and it’s getting worse.

In response, some see a combination of rail transportation and boats across the lake being the answer. This vision of the future, as explained in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, is a remembrance of the past. Among these visionaries is Gunar Henrieolle, who has 18 rail cars that he purchased from the City of San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the new leader of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, John Singlaub, is hoping to have a unified vision in place by 2007. "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."

Others, such as Chris Swan, who owns a San Francisco-based company called Suntrain, foresees trains powered by a combination of solar energy and fuel cells. The salvation he sees is development of hydrogen fuel cells, which he predicts will be in place by 2006.

Tax-increment financing proposed

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Several business and property owners at the base of the Steamboat ski area, including the ski area operator, are assembling a proposal to use tax-increment financing as a way of financing public improvements such as roads and pedestrian paths.

A similar but more ambitious plan was rejected in 1999, notes The Steamboat Pilot. That previous plan envisioned steering $150 million in property taxes back into improvements. This one, in a bar-napkin estimate, would divert $5 million to $10 million in tax money that would otherwise go to county and other property-taxing governments. School taxes, however, are exempted.

Paul Hughes, Steamboat’s city manager, suggested city council members would be receptive to the proposal. "With the right boundaries, it would probably be well received."

Many have seen Steamboat’s base area as so dysfunctional that it has deterred real estate reinvestment.

Much ado about Hemingway house

KETCHUM, Idaho — A proposal to allow public access into the Ketchum home where the author Ernest Hemingway committed suicide is drawing opposition.

Hemingway’s fourth and last wife, Mary, willed the house to the Nature Conservancy with the understanding that it not be open to the public, explains USA Today. But Hemingway’s granddaughter, Mariel, an actress, thinks that times have changed.

"It doesn’t have the same validity that it used to, worrying about whether he committed suicide," she says. "It’s a fact of life that he did. It’s part of the tremendous colour of his existence."

Hemingway began spending time at nearby Sun Valley in the 1930s when completing For Whom the Bell Tolls. He bought the house in 1959, and two years later, when he was 61, shot himself with a 12-gauge shot gun.

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