TRUCKEE, Calif. — Ten years after a vision of a long-distance trail following the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake was presented, work on the 116-mile path is 65 percent complete.
The newest open section in the bistate Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway is from Verdi to Fleish Dam, with construction of a replacement suspension bridge over the dam adding 3.5 miles of trail.
“It always takes longer to build a trail than you think, but we think the progress has been terrific,” said Janet Phillips, president of the nonprofit, all-volunteer Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway.
Phillips spent a year investigating route feasibility at ground level, before going public with the concept in November 2003.
“At the time it was just a vision, but there was a really strong favorable response from Tahoe to Pyramid Lake,” she said.
By year’s end, the project had more than 200 supporters and $30,000 in cash, according to the bikeway. The first completed route section — an off-highway bicycle route between Reno and Verdi — opened in May 2005.
Today, route segments from Tahoe City to Truckee, Verdi to Sparks, Mustang Ranch to Clark and Wadsworth to Pyramid Lake are also finished. The trail is paved in urban areas and dirt in rural areas.
“It’s not looked as a Class I (bikeway); it’s rustic,” explained Chris Askin, a Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway advisory member.
To date, the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway organization has spent about $500,000 on the trail, not including partnership contributions, Phillips said. Funding sources have included federal and state grants, private donations and in-kind service donations.
“I think it’s one of the unique programs in the country in which you can find people of various skills, whether you’re an architect, an engineer, a trail builder or a fundraiser, and you can get a trail built two-thirds of the way through in 10 years,” said Jim Kidder, a bikeway board member.
The next planned section is the five miles from the Fleish Bridge to Floriston, Phillips said. It will be funded by a $356,000 federal grant through the Recreational Trails Program. Construction is expected in fall 2014, with completion in 2015.
Remaining segments are Boca to Floriston, Sparks to Mustang and Clark to Wadsworth.
Completion of the 116-mile route could occur as early as 10 years from now, Phillips said.
“But there are many factors outside our control,” she said, ranging from landowner approval to funding.
To date, the trail has won two awards: Best Long Distance Trail from the Coalition for Recreational Trails in 2012; and Environmental Excellence in Nonmotorized and Multimodal Transportation by the Federal Highway Administration in 2013.