Breaking ground: Incline-to-Sand Harbor pathway construction to begin this August
Special to the Tribune
After months of fundraising and public meetings, a project designed to increase walkability and ease traffic issues along the congested stretch of Highway 28 between Incline Village and Sand Harbor will break ground this summer.
On Tuesday, July 26, at The Chateau, Nevada Department of Transportation hosted a public information meeting to share updates regarding the Incline Village-to-Sand Harbor shared-use path project.
In a 15-minute presentation, NDOT project manager Nick Johnson explained what residents can expect construction-wise in the upcoming months.
Now that the environmental assessment is completed, Phase 1 construction is slated to start at the end of August with these main elements going into place:
Relocation of Highway 28 shoulder parking to new parking lots near Ponderosa Ranch and Tunnel Creek Cafe;
Construction of a pedestrian/bicycle undercrossing near Tunnel Creek;
Safety improvements with centerline rumble strips and emergency turnouts;
Erosion control/water quality improvements.
“Anticipate a lot of one-lane closures 24 hours a day for two weeks,” Johnson said.
Working in conjunction with Granite Construction, equipment staging areas will be set at Memorial Point, the Tunnel Creek pullout on the east side of Highway 28, and at Lakeshore Boulevard on the southwest side of the highway.
People traveling to and from Incline Village on Highway 50 should expect up to 20-minute delays.
PROVIDING ‘SAFER ACCESS’
Granite Construction chose the end of August to begin work because that’s when tourist season tends to die down, especially traffic to and from Sand Harbor.
According to Granite Construction Nevada Region Estimator John O’Day, the parking lots, sewer lines and tunnel are expected to cost around $4.3 million.
During the public comment period Tuesday, some residents voiced concerns about the construction staging areas, total costs and how this seems “all built for tourists,” to quote one attendee.
However, there also was a strong presence of locals who are in favor of the project.
“It’ll be a couple more years before the path goes in, but then there will be safer access to the beaches and highway,” sad Incline Village resident Amy Berry.
Berry is also CEO of the Tahoe Fund. The nonprofit has led fundraising efforts for the pathway, which the fund promotes as its signature project.
She said more than 400 donors contributed $1 million to support the pathway.
“We travel all over to use bike paths; it’d be good to have one in our backyard,” a 32-year Incline Village resident said Tuesday. “I was praying this would happen before I died.”
Phase 2, still in design, consists mainly of construction of the three-mile paved shared-use path from the south end of Incline Village to Sand Harbor.
O’Day says there are some tricky areas where to install the path, so NDOT and project partners are trying to figure out how to be most efficient.
“There is some steep terrain, and some areas are hard where the shoreline is close to the highway,” O’Day added. “Bridges may be more cost effective than retaining walls, and we want to minimize excavation with footings to prevent sentiment from going into the lake.”
When completed, the pathway is expected to greatly help improve safety.
As tourist crowds grow at Lake Tahoe, demand along the Highway 28 corridor between Incline and Sand Harbor continues to grow.
“More than two-and-a-half million vehicles a year travel on State Route 28, mixing with as many as 2,000 pedestrian and bicyclists who park and recreate near the roadside and creating safety and accessibility concerns on the mountainous highway,” according to NDOT.
According to Tahoe Transportation District, the number of vehicles parked along the shoulder has grown almost 170 percent between 2000 and 2011 — and is projected to double by 2038.