Council to consider trails and bikeways plan | SierraSun.com

Council to consider trails and bikeways plan

Erich Sommer
Photo by Doug SlaterLuke and Louden Smith of Truckee brought their kids Brian and Erin out to the Martis Creek recreation area for a bike ride in the 70 degree weather on Saturday afternoon.
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With the town of Truckee already at critical mass on many of its roadways during peak periods, mass transit, primarily in the form of buses, has been increasingly promoted as a partial solution to alleviating traffic congestion.But tonight, the town council will consider a plan that could get more people out of their cars, without loading them on to diesel buses.The council will consider the formal adoption of the Truckee Trails & Bikeways Master Plan.After over two years in the making, a draft copy of the Master Plan was released last November for public review.The Master Plan seeks to establish a network of over 130 miles of street bikeways and recreational trail corridors that provide access to the all parts of the community and the surrounding area.It calls for up to 57 miles of recreational trails and 76 miles of on-street bikeways, along with the development of staging areas, trailheads and information kiosks.According to the plan itself, the trails program was prescribed by over 50 policies that were incorporated into Truckee’s General Plan in 1996.The Master Plan identifies the general vicinities of trails and bikeways, but not the specific location, using a methodology called corridor planning.Corridor planning doesn’t look at every segment of the trail and all of the issues each segment, says planner Gavin Ball. Instead, it denotes the general vicinity.Subsequent alignment planning will decide where specific portions of the trail will be located.Town planners started by researching other bike and trail plans throughout the west.”We modeled our plan after components of other plans,” Ball said.The city of Davis, long renowned for its extensive network of bike lanes through town, provided valuable background.In addition, the staff looked at Sun Valley and Park City trails and bikeway networks.”Sun Valley has trails that connect major areas of town to each other,” Ball said.With an understanding of various plans, the town then formed a citizen’s committee, with Ball facilitating and directing the meetings of the advisory committeeThe committee, made up of over 30 business and community members, devised the framework of the plan.”We solicited public involvement in this project,” Ball said, before noting the response was more than town staff expected. “It was a lot more than you normally get when you ask people to volunteer.”But before anyone on the committee got to draw a line on a map, the town took the advisory committee through a three-step process.First, committee members identified what resources, both in town and regionally, they would like to see connected.Ball said the committee choose everything from Boca Reservoir to the middle school.”The post office, downtown, the library, the hospital, Glenshire neighborhood, the committee thought people should be able to get to those things by bike,” Ball said.Once those locations were identified, the committee had to recognize opportunities and constraints.Physical constraints included things like the Truckee River, or existing development. But new development, and the public’s desire for increased access to Truckee River were seen as opportunities.If approved, the plan would require new developments that are proposed near areas identified for future trails and bikeways to, as a condition of approval, be designed in a manner that is conducive to those future trails and bikeways.”Then we took all this and formulated what I think is one of the crucial elements of the plan. That’s the goals and policies… [The committee] did a great job of formulating that part of the plan,” Ball said.Finally, after eight months of brainstorming sessions and meetings, the committee met for a Saturday mapping session.”[The committee] was pretty fired up,” Ball recounted.But the uncertainty over the exact the location of future trails and bikeways, along with the fact the town may reserve the right to use condemnation for acquisition of land for trails and bikeways has local property rights advocates raising questions about the plan.Pat Davison of the California Association of Resource and Property Owners, and John Faulk of the Sierra Board of Realtors, both spoke about the inclusion of condemnation in the plan at a March 13 planning commission hearing.”It’s a shame condemnation is in the plan,” Davison said on Monday. “You can have it in the plan, but it’s not needed.”Davison said condemnation has a purpose, but shouldn’t be used in recreational matters.”There are other places, like Nevada County, that have said willing sellers only,” she noted.Davison said if the condemnation option is left in the plan, her organization may decide not to support it.Davison and CAPRO have also advocated for additional and continuing notification to private property owners who may be affected by the trail system.Ball, however, said he feels the plan respects property owner values, and that condemnation is a last resort.”It is a tool that is available to the town. It would be foolish to throw it away. But it would only be used in a drastic situation,” he said. “It’s ugly, it’s a last resort, and I don’t see it ever being used. But staff is going to strongly recommend it stay in the plan.”Davison also requested the town provide additional information about the cost of the trail system.”I think anybody looking at this from a fiscal perspective would like to see that,” she said.The town has provided cost estimates for segments of the different kinds of trails and some of the necessary infrastructure.Those estimates include: $150,000 – $350,000 for construction of one mile of a bike path, $20,000 – $50,000 for construction of a bike lane and $36,000 for construction of one mile of earthen trail.As far as the overall cost of the project, Town Planner Duane Hall said, “We don’t have any definitive cost for all the trails in the plan,” adding that the funding of the plan will come in a variety of ways.”There are a number of different mechanisms. There are grants available, in the downtown area you could use redevelopment funds, the [Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District] might partner in the project and even private contributions,” Hall said. “The trail’s master plan is very much like a general plan, it gives you a vision, but the details will be worked out in future … on a case by case basis through public reviews.”