Officials sketch three routes for Dollar Hill-Tahoe Vista bike path |

Officials sketch three routes for Dollar Hill-Tahoe Vista bike path

Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun file photoA 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.

Three options are being investigated in an effort to accomplish one thing build a bike trail from Tahoe Vista to Tahoe City.The North Tahoe Public Utility District board of directors gave the trail their backing at a meeting Tuesday. But the path project still faces many obstacles before moving toward construction, organizers said.Starting at the top of Dollar Hill, the utility districts western boundary, the preliminary bike trail routes wind through the forests behind neighborhoods until it reaches North Tahoe Regional Park.While one alignment drops down and follows the public neighborhood roads, the other two stay mostly on U.S. Forest Service property.The districts board members said they preferred the alignment that made the most use of U.S. Forest Service property and stayed higher than the other two.This route, Alternate 1, has the shortest linear distance and a projected cost that is cheaper than the other two alignments. However, Alternate 1 does enter sensitive habitat zones.I think, as a board here, we want this to go forward, said President Lane Lewis of the districts board of directors.While consultants have sketched out three separate alignments, the project is still in the preliminary stages of planning. An environmental study outlining any and all projected impacts must be completed before any final decision on a specific route is made.Tuesdays presentation was intended to update the directors on the projects planning, inform them of the possible routes and give the directors an opportunity to comment on the preliminary sketches before the project progresses any further.If you dont think there is a poison pill here then we can move forward, said Curtis Aaron, general manager of the utility district.The cost of maintenance and feasibility of the trails upkeep is one obstacle board members said they were concerned about. But were not to that point yet, Lewis said.The presentation broke the three alternate routes into various segments, and associated capital and maintenance costs based on each routes alignment and topography. This is a pretty challenging project and we know theres been a lot of history in it, said Philip Sales, an associate for Alta Planning andamp; Design, which specializes in bike trail development. Sales firm presented the three possible alignments Tuesday.The goal of the North Tahoe PUD is to build a class 1 trail, not exceeding a 5 percent grade, that links Tahoe Vista to the Tahoe City bike trail and promotes non-motorized forms of transit. But building a project that involves multiple property owners both public and private and sensitive wildlife and cultural areas is no simple task, especially when the project needs to meet requirements set by the Basins regulatory agencies, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Americans with Disabilities Act.One such challenge identified in Tuesdays presentation was located at a rock dome, which features a steep climb just before the trail comes into the North Tahoe Regional Park. Alternates 2 and 3 would require switchbacks, and extensive excavation, to climb the dome. Still, the Basins agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the California Tahoe Conservancy, remain supportive of the project, said Debbie Vreeland, project manager for EDAW consulting.No one has shut a door in our face, but we need to get out into the field, Vreeland said.

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