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Trails along Truckee River may be open by the end of summer

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Truckee residents may be able to bike, jog or walk along the banks of the Truckee River late this summer.

For the past two years, the Truckee Rotary Club has been working on plans to bring a legacy to the Truckee community – a series of multi-use trails along the river. The club hopes the trails will eventually connect Glenshire, Donner Lake, Northstar, Highway 89, West Lake Tahoe and North Lake Tahoe.

According to Marshall Lewis, vice president of the Truckee River Legacy Foundation, the project will most likely break ground in mid- May.

“We will stake the trail and begin erosion-control work,” said Lewis. He said that by late July or early August, people may be able to enjoy a portion of the new trails.

The trails will be designed for biking, jogging, walking and for simply enjoying being near the river and in the outdoors. They will also be wheelchair accessible.

The Rotary believes that the trails will encourage appreciation for the river and its natural habitat.

“When people start using the trail, they will start wanting to protect the river,” said Lewis. “The objective is to get people down by the river by providing access. That way, I think that people will really value the river.”

The river trail will be about 8 feet wide and will be paved in some sections, and have a compacted dirt surface in others. It will be designed in six independently planned segments. The first phase will run about one-half mile from the Truckee River Regional Park to the already existing pedestrian bridge at the end of East River Street. According to Gail Anderson, the committee working on phase one has obtained all of the necessary permits and is ready to break ground.

The Truckee River Legacy Foundation, which is a non-profit organization, figured a total cost for the first phase of the project to be about $220,000, said Lewis, who is also committee chair for phase one.

“We are well on our way of achieving this,” he said. The foundation relies mostly on donations from the community as well as fund-raising. So far, $100,000 in materials have been donated.

“So far we’ve gotten tremendous positive response from the various suppliers,” said Lewis.

The foundation’s fund-raising was jump-started by last year’s Cadillac Ball, where they sold an extra 200 raffle tickets and earned approximately $20,000 for the trail.

“The community has been incredible. They are excited to step in and help,” said Lewis. “Virtually every aspect of this project has been given good support.” Lewis said they were given pledges for heavy equipment and engineering for the project has also been donated.

The Rotary Club will sponsor the phase one kick-off weekend May 15-16, where volunteer work parties will be meeting at the regional park to install 4,000 feet of erosion control fencing. A picnic lunch will be served between morning and afternoon shifts.

Chuck Soppet, a mechanical engineer who recently retired from Bechtal Corp. and moved to the Truckee area, is the project manager for phase one.

“He was very instrumental in getting us on a direct path on how to get this done,” said Lewis. “He suggested we segment phase one into 500 foot segments and go to various contractors and ask them to take on those segments.”

Three contractors have already volunteered for segments, and Lewis said they hope to have the remaining three more segments matched with contractors by the end of this week.

Rotary Club members have been intimately involved in facilitating the project since the beginning. Members have given presentations to many organizations in the community. At each point, said Lewis, someone has stepped forward to offer their support.

“Those are the kinds of out of the heart commitments people have made for this,” said Lewis. “People said they wanted this and now they are turning around and backing it up, saying, ‘I want to help.'”

Lewis said they have even had donations from Reno.

Phase two will most likely get started in summer 2000, which will be the proposed construction of the trail from the pedestrian bridge heading east towards the Truckee Sanitary District, by the ponds. The phase two committee has already begun planning and meets every other week to work on the issue of crossing a floodplain with a trail.

The club is not in a hurry to complete the project. Because they can only do one phase at a time, it is important the project does not get ahead of itself, said Lewis.

“The idea of a 100-year project is so that we have time to do it right. It’s got to be something the community embraces. We think, over time, the trails will take on a momentum of their own,” he said.

The first few segments of the project will be built on public lands. However, as the trail expands, there will be some private land issues that may cause delays, said Lewis. He hopes that once people start getting the access, they will realize the importance of this project and the benefits of greater river access.

Last year the foundation presented the river project to the town council and received support. The trails will eventually be given over the Town of Truckee, Lewis said. Truckee Parks and Recreation Department, the Town of Truckee and the Truckee River Legacy Foundation will work together on trail maintenance. Truckee Parks and Recreation will be responsible for the long-term maintenance and the foundation will help raise funds for the maintenance.

The Rotary Club usually gives between $40,000 and $50,000 to support the community youth, seniors and various organizations.

But two years ago the club found it had the capability to do more for the community than in the past and began looking for more long-term projects. It developed five focus groups, each constructed to brainstorm project ideas, and the river was found to be a common interest.

The planning group has met with the Town of Truckee, the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District, the Truckee Sanitation District, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and other related organizations, which Lewis said have all endorsed the project.


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