TRUCKEE, Calif. - The debate over which alignment should be used for a large section of the proposed Martis Valley Trail has been settled.
The 5.4-mile portion connecting Truckee to Northstar California will follow Highway 267 instead of going through the resort. In a 3-1 vote, the Northstar Community Services District board of directors approved the alignment at its meeting Wednesday.
Board President Nancy Ives, director Duane Evans and director Darrell Smith voted in favor, while Frank Seelig voted against. Director Jeann Green abstained.
Staff's recommendation to pursue the highway alignment was mostly based on the Northstar Property Owners Association board informing the district it would not grant easements needed to construct the valley option, said district General Manager Michael Staudenmayer.
"The trail is going to get built in our lifetime, and if we don't want to spend 25 years in court, that's pretty much where we are right now (the highway route)," Ives said.
Other reasons for the highway route include it being a "slight(ly)" better environmental option, Staudenmayer said in a follow-up interview, as well as indications that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers preferred it.
The valley route is not being ruled out completely, Staudenmayer said. Part of staff's recommendation is to keep it as an option in the event something develops down the road that would make the highway route infeasible.
"We're being realistic at this point in time," Staudenmayer said at the meeting. "We want to be flexible and say, 'OK, we can't go that way - we still have the option for the valley route.'"
Green, who was looking for a final resolution to the alignment debate, said she found staff's recommendation to be "manipulative."
In a related action Wednesday, the board unanimously approved the design and consulting services of Tahoe City-based Auerbach Engineering Corporation for segment one of the project for $193,038. Segment one is independent of either trail alignment and runs between the Nevada/Placer County line near the intersection of Shaffer Mill Road and Highway 267 to the Wildlife Viewing Area.
Wally Auerbach, president of the corporation, said it would likely take 13 or 14 months before the project could go out to bid. Construction of segment one could start as early as 2014.