Bike trail on tap for 2006 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Bike trail on tap for 2006

Susan Wood

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Bob Kingman, left, program analyst for the California Tahoe Conservancy describes a bike path spur that will overlook the lake to cyclist Mike Langan.

South Lake Tahoe’s long-awaited bike trail connecting one side of town to the other may be closer to having ends meet.

The California Tahoe Conservancy has committed an estimated $3 million to finally complete the 1-mile section on Highway 50 between the east side of El Dorado Beach and Ski Run Boulevard – with a lake lookout spur off the main trail.

“That would be nice,” said Mike Langan, who was riding in the area. Langan uses his bike as a primary mode of transportation.

CTC Program Analyst Bob Kingman, a cyclist himself, is aiming for May 2006 for the project to start construction if everything falls into place.

This means a cyclist could ride the bike path at the Tahoe Keys area off James Avenue, meander through Harrison Avenue traffic to reconnect with the path at Lakeview Avenue and continue on to Ski Run. From there, a cyclist could get to the other end of town via the Linear Park route or opt to ride up Ski Run Boulevard’s newly paved bike trail that has drawn people off the road for rides, walks and roller skating.

The Highway 50 project would include a Lake Tahoe scenic lookout with a picnic table and trash can on the CTC-owned bluff between the Lakefront Professional Building and Sierra Shores condominium complex now under construction.

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The CTC contracted with Sacramento design firm EDAW to conduct planning for the critical link. The city approved the $420,000 planning commitment two weeks ago. The local government still needs to negotiate a few easements around the Bijou Center.

Kingman expects smooth sailing through the permitting process, as the paved link that would replace hazardous, tree root-infested areas falls into the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Environmental Improvement Plan, which is a list of projects designed to restore the environment and the clarity of Lake Tahoe. The bike trail is also listed in the regional master bike plan.

The plan includes landscaping, but its “maintenance is yet to be figured out,” Kingman said. Property owners have apparently expressed interest in tending the greenery.

The city and state have spent years trying to come up with a workable plan for the area southwest of Ski Run Marina. Three years ago, the two entities hosted a design forum that brought firms from all over to draw up plans. Those concepts have been on hold. Kingman said what’s different now is “there’s money behind it.” There’s also a little more buy-in among property owners for the bike path.

After the design forum, private property owners gave a tentative no-go to a boardwalk that crosses their beaches. And a new owner at the marina has not yet finalized his plan for the design of his property. There was talk of a gathering place at the spot.

Public access at Lake Tahoe and the complexity of the projects to secure it is more difficult to come by than one might think, Kingman said.

“When Lake Tahoe was considered as a national park, they should have put things in action to protect (public) lake access,” he said.

The national park idea came up in 1900 and 1933, but it didn’t materialize.

-Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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