With two bike path segments built on the South Shore, Tahoe Transportation District is turning its focus north and asking for public input on three miles of path proposed to be built along Lake Tahoe’s east shore from Incline Village to Sand Harbor.
A 300-page environmental assessment prepared for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and U.S. Federal Highway Administration is out for comment through mid-April.
“This is a pretty major milestone for us,” said Alfred Knotts, Tahoe Transportation District’s project manager.
The proposed path is one more part in a larger effort to build a continuous bike path from the Nevada state line on the North Shore to the casino corridor in Stateline on the South Shore. If this proposed segment is built, about 22 miles of path would remain to be completed.
The path would start near Tunnel Creek in Incline Village with a trailhead parking area in highway right-of-way, beginning near the end of an existing 2.5-mile path that runs along Lakeshore Boulevard. From there the path would run south along the east side of State Route 28 to Tunnel Creek.
The environmental assessment lays out options to continue the bike path south from Tunnel Creek, routing it either along the lake-side or the mountain-side of State Route 28 to Sand Harbor, the southernmost beach in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. The path would be completely separated from the road.
“Each (option) kind of has its own pros or cons as it relates to potential environmental impacts and also to user experiences,” Knotts said. “We haven’t proposed an alignment in the EA. We’re looking to the public to see what people favor, what concerns they have, then develop a recommendation of a preferred alternative.”
Sand Harbor is a heavily used recreation area that sees about 700,000 to 900,000 visitors each year, according to the environmental assessment. It hosts the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in July and August and a Monday and Friday evening concert series throughout the summer.
Heavy use taxes the area’s limited parking and often leads to parked vehicles and people walking on the side of the highway.
“We’re looking to address a lot of safety and access issues that exist in that corridor and provide non-motorized access to high-value recreation areas and public lands,” Knotts said.
Chipping away at the ambitious Stateline-to-Stateline bike path, Tahoe Transportation District recently built two segments of path on the South Shore.
One segment runs from Kahle Drive to Elks Point Road. It was completed in October 2012 and saw as many as 11,000 people per month using it during last summer’s peak tourist season. The other segment runs from Elks Point Road to Round Hill Pines Resort. It was finished last October.
The proposed path is fully funded from Incline Village to Tunnel Creek and Tahoe Transportation District has preliminary approvals from the FHWA to fund the rest, Knotts said. The plan is to finalize a route and project designs this year. The earliest construction could start is summer 2015.
“The preliminary engineering estimate looking at the worst-case scenario for the full three miles is about $12 million, depending on which alignment is selected,” Knotts said.
Tahoe Transportation District also is exploring a chance to build a bike path in conjunction with an export sewer line project Incline Village General Improvement District plans to undertake in the next five to seven years.
“We’re exploring our ability to kind of link those two projects together to really reduce costs and environmental impacts,” Knotts said.
If feasible, that could deliver up to eight miles of bike path extending south from Sand Harbor.