District kick-starts bike path planning | SierraSun.com

District kick-starts bike path planning

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra SunA cyclist makes his way down Dollar Hill toward Kings Beach on Thursday. The North Tahoe utility district is pushing forward with an environmental assessment of a new trail segment linking Kings Beach and Dollar Hill.
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The ball is rolling on a new North Tahoe’s bike path from the North Tahoe Regional Park to Dollar Point.

Various governing and consulting agencies held a kick-off meeting Wednesday to discuss their plan of action regarding the trail’s environmental assessment.

The draft Environmental Impact Report is scheduled to come out in the summer of 2009, with construction breaking ground the following year.

The North Tahoe Public Utility District received a grant worth just under $1 million from the California Tahoe Conservancy for environmental planning. The district will search for additional funding to cover construction costs, which are estimated to be between $1.5 to $2 million per mile. The trail will cover 12 miles, according to the draft plan.

The envisioned route will begin at the North Tahoe Regional Park and continue to Dollar Hill, close to where Tahoe City’s bike path ends at the Dollar Point 7-Eleven. The path will run behind homes in Tahoe Vista, Carnelian Bay, Agate Bay and Old County.

“Hopefully, it will be close enough to the community so [bikers] can get on the trail to go to other places,” said Kathy Long, the North Tahoe Public Utility District’s parks and recreation manager. “That’s the idea.”

There is a broad area where the trail could go, Long said. But steep terrain, brushy areas and endangered species territories for the spotted owl and the goshawk must be taken into consideration.

The San Francisco-based consulting group EDAW will manage the path’s environmental documents. The firm will gather data and adopt a project schedule in the next month. An aerial survey will be conducted in the next two weeks.

A Web site updating the public on the project’s stages, mapping, drafts and agencies will be set up this fall and a public meeting held in January.

The class-one paved trail will be 10-feet wide with a minimum shoulder of two feet on each side. The trail can be no steeper than a 5 percent grade.

The North Tahoe Public Utility District is the lead agency on the project. Officials from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the California Tahoe Conservancy also attended Wednesday’s meeting.