Bike paths for Ski Run Boulevard
Ski Run Boulevard, built wide enough to accommodate five lanes, will be narrowed to the size of a two-lane road in most places and have bike paths running on both sides of it by next fall.
Construction of the $2.2 million project is expected to begin in May. It will create 8-foot wide, half-mile long asphalt bike paths fitted with street lights and landscaping.
The road project evolved out a community plan created in 1994 that called for the narrowing of the road and creation of a village area in the two blocks between Larch and Tamarack avenues.
Eager to find a way to do the work, South Lake Tahoe city planners and the Ski Run Property Owners Association tapped the California Tahoe Conservancy, which secured a $1.5 million grant for the project.
The grant was awarded because construction will connect existing bike paths at Pioneer Trail and Highway 50.
“Two of our highest priorities are lake access and bike trails,” said Ray Lacey, Conservancy program coordinator.
Most of the grant money came out of a pot of state money set aside for the Environmental Improvement Program, which aims to protect the clarity of Lake Tahoe, Lacey said.
“This will connect up existing bike trail segments and help encourage people to get out of their cars,” he said. “There are a range of environmental benefits.”
Curbs and gutters installed along the milelong section of Ski Run will improve water quality. They will feed storm water runoff into a wetland that sits at Ski Run and Paradise Avenue to filter it before it reaches Lake Tahoe.
Curbs and gutters are to be installed where neighborhood roads intersect with Ski Run. That work will be funded by the U.S. Forest Service, which has put up $500,000, and the city, which is guaranteeing about $180,000 for the project.
With the narrowing of the road, parking along Ski Run will likely be limited to parallel parking within the two-block village area. The road through the village area will be cut from 100 feet to 62 feet. It will be the widest section of Ski Run to accommodate the parking spaces and a center turn lane.
“This is a fantastic project,” said Gary Marchio, principal planner at the city. “From the planning standpoint, it implements a vision that citizens came up with. Another great thing, it’s a link to experience Lake Tahoe on a smaller scale.”
According to Lacey, two key citizens who made this project work are Ron Rumble, owner of Rainbow Mountain and president of the Ski Run Property Owners Association, and Dennis Crabb, the association’s attorney.
“When the property owners started getting together, with that kind of cooperation, it’s very easy to see how a project like this rises to the top,” Lacey said. “(Ron Rumble) is really the heart of this whole story. It’s so terrific the way he rallied the property owners.”
The property owners association is in the process of creating a business improvement district to pay for sod and other improvements along the bike paths. The City Council is scheduled to hear the association’s proposal on Dec. 19. The bike paths will be maintained by the city through Measure S, a tax adopted in September 2000 to fund recreation.
“We want to be right on line when they do the bike path … native grass looks a little desolate,” said George Perkins, 72, owner of George’s Skis & Boards and Ski Renter, which are businesses on Ski Run.
“It’s been a very positive reaction from all the business owners,” Perkins said. “I think since they’re improving the casino area we should just be an extension of that.”
Perkins, a resident since 1969, has been part of a wave of building along Ski Run. Most of the building projects are tied to building rights packaged with the community plan that was approved in 1994.
Perkins rebuilt his ski and board shop last year and said business since then has improved considerably. This summer he had a professional building constructed not far from his shop.
Preliminary planning has begun to expand the shopping center at the corner of Ski Run and Highway 50. An office building was built this summer at the corner of Larch Avenue and Ski Run. Rainbow added a ground floor to its store and a restaurant is expected to be built next to Scusa, with another restaurant to go in at the corner of Tamarack and Ski Run.
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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