North Tahoe bike path project forges ahead |

North Tahoe bike path project forges ahead

Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun file photoSasha and Vitaly Smith of Auburn ride on the bike path near Tahoe City last summer. The North Tahoe Public Utility District is working on adding a bike trail between Dollar Hill and Tahoe Vista.

The mix of public agencies planning a bike path linking Kings Beach with Tahoe Vista and other North Shore neighborhoods has sketched out initial concepts for the ambitious project.

On Tuesday, the agencies will report their progress at a public informational meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the North Tahoe Community Conference Center. The meeting will include opportunity to comment and ask questions.

The North Tahoe Public Utility District, the lead agency for the North Tahoe Bike Trail Project, met with partnering agencies over the fall. They conducted early site visits, field surveys and planning meetings, said Sydney Coatsworth, vice president of consulting group EDAW, at the utility district’s board of directors meeting last week.

The North Shore bicycle trail project has a lot of momentum, Coatsworth said, with partners including the California Tahoe Conservancy, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the U.S. Forest Service willing to work together to complete the trail.

“Each of these agencies has a vested interest in the bike trail,” Coatsworth said.

The bike path is intended to provide recreation and promote alternative transportation at the same time. Early plans call for a 10-foot-wide trail with 2-foot shoulders. The trail will give bicyclists a connection to Lake Tahoe’s beaches and commercial and residential areas, Coatsworth said.

“We’re trying to keep in mind the whole population of potential trail users,” she said.

The eight- to nine-mile trail would wind through both public and privately owned property, as well as sensitive habitat zones for the spotted owl and goshawk.

Efforts are under way to negotiate public access and right-of-way through the parcels owned by private individuals, Coatsworth said.

The Vedanta Society has already given permission for the trail to cross its property, Coatsworth said. The San Francisco-based religious nonprofit owns a 200-acre lot in Carnelian Bay that is used as a spiritual retreat in the summer.

At their meeting Thursday, the district’s directors expressed optimism about the trail, although a few voiced concerns over the costs of long-term maintenance.

“I would hate to spend all that money, though, if it turns out we would be upside down on the maintenance,” said Director John Bergmann.

A California Tahoe Conservancy grant of just under $1 million is paying for the current phase of the bike path’s planning.

The North Tahoe district proposed building a bike path in 1987 to link the North Tahoe Regional Park with the Tahoe City Public Utility District’s trail at Dollar Point. But the preliminary work never resulted in an approved project.

“This project has a very long history,” Coatsworth said.

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