Proposal to pave Legacy Trail leads to debate
Discussion is becoming heightened over whether to pave Truckee’s Legacy Trail.
“This discussion is not anything new; it started at the get-go,” said Truckee resident Marshall Lewis.
Lewis is a member of Truckee Noon Rotary, the organization whose vision it was to create the five-phase trail extending from Donner Lake to Glenshire. Marshall also sits on the board of the Rotary-developed Our Truckee River Legacy Foundation.
“Our approach at the beginning was that the trail would be a slower-speed, natural surface trail [of decomposed granite], and that people would be able to enjoy the river in a more peaceful setting,” Lewis said. “Now, if that vision needs to change to accommodate a different set of values, we should do it with our eyes open and after healthy debate.”
The debate began in part at a January meeting of the Noon Rotary. A panel of community members, including Paco Lindsay, owner of Paco’s Truckee Bike and Ski, discussed the pros and cons of paving the six-mile trail.
“We market ourselves as a world class recreational [destination], but we are the only one of the top-10 mountain resorts that doesn’t have a paved recreation trail,” Lindsay said. “If it’s a legacy for an entire town for generations, having a trail that the maximum number of people can benefit from should be the goal.”
But skeptics aren’t so sure that maximizing use of the Legacy Trail is the best decision. Paving, some say, might increase the project’s negative impacts.
“One of the more significant environmental impacts is erosion, and the wider the trail, the more habitat we are going to be taking up,” said Lisa Wallace, executive director of the Truckee River Watershed Council. “I’m concerned about paving through some of the cultural and historical sites, and the different speeds of different users could also be a problem.”
Yet with all the current data available, questions still remain.
“We are assuming that there would be a cost differential, but there is no estimate of what that is yet,” Lewis said. “We need to know who’s going to maintain the trail if we pave it. And then we need to know what the liability issues are of a higher-speed trail, and who would take on that liability.”
The town has a vested interest in paved trails ” they’re written into the Downtown Specific Plan and the general plan, so it’s likely that an increase in financial and maintenance support from the town will hinge on the trail’s form, according to Public Works Director Dan Wilkins.
The unpaved trail is currently maintained by the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District, but General Manager Steve Randall said the district does not have “the manpower, equipment or expertise to maintain paved surfaces.”
Stakeholders are considering a town survey, and Town staff is preparing for a discussion of the issue with town council this spring.
Other topics to consider
– Would paving the trail take longer or cost more?
– Are there additional funding sources?
– What about paving only half the width of the trail?
– Are there paving constraints due to archaeological sensitivity?
– Would the Town be a greater contributor if the trail were paved?
– Phase 1: From Truckee River Regional Park to the East River Street Footbridge. (Complete)
– Phase 2: From East River Street to the ice dams and the Riverview Sports Park. (Complete)
– Phase 3: From the ice dams to the Glenshire entrance. (Complete by 2008)
– Phase 4: From the Truckee River Regional Park to the Mousehole at Highway 89 south. (No completion date scheduled)
– Phase 5: From the Mousehole to Donner Lake. (No completion date scheduled)
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