Hundreds celebrate opening of East Shore Trail at Lake Tahoe

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Gov. Steve Sisolak helped chop a red ribbon with giant, really dull, scissors and then started walking on Tahoe’s newest gem, a trail that will eventually reach around the lake.

Hundreds witnessed the christening of the East Shore Trail Friday afternoon, an approximately 3-mile long path between Incline Village and Sand Harbor State Park open to non-motorized bicycles and foot traffic, and then they broke it in with bikes or their feet.

The 10-foot wide paved path, that features six bridges with the longest at 810 feet, rises about 150 feet in elevation using a family-friendly grade to provide glorious views of Big Blue.

The trail drops back down and goes under Nevada State Route 28 and follows the lakeshore the remainder of the way to Sand Harbor.

“This pathway is much more than three miles,” Sisolak said. “It is a true success story of all those who came together with a shared vision to create a safer, more accessible and brighter future for ourselves, our communities and our environment. I know that this path will provide an opportunity for our hard-working Nevada families to enjoy beautiful Lake Tahoe for decades to come.”

The path is another step in a future multi-use trail circling Lake Tahoe to connect communities, parks, beaches, businesses and other destinations.

“We’re approaching the halfway mark around the lake,” Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director Joanne Marchetta told the crowd. “It’s 70 miles and we’re at 33 now.”

The trail will improve safety by taking pedestrians off a busy road that has more than two and a half million cars on it annually.

There are up to 2,000 pedestrian and bicyclists who park and recreate near the roadside on peak days.

Nearly 107 crashes occurred in the area between 2006 and 2013; accounting for approximately 25 percent of crashes on State Route 28, according to a press release. 

More than 10 miles of centerline rumble strips and emergency roadside turnouts were also added. 

The construction of the trail, which is dog-friendly using a leash, was a large undertaking and some people in the audience were trying to imagine how much life they lost while waiting in traffic.

Going under the road was no easy task. 

The 14-foot wide by 10-foot high underpass was constructed to bring the path from the east-to-west side of the road at Hidden Beach. Seventeen concrete boxes, each weighing approximately 25,000 pounds, were used to create the tunnel.

Also installed were 10 new highway turn-outs for emergency use, scenic vista pull outs; 5,000 linear feet of storm drain pipes, including 80 drainage inlets and 26,000 linear feet of curb and gutter; 4,000 linear feet of reinforcing walls; Approximately six miles of conduit to support future information technology that will provide advance driver information and other communications systems and 17 vista points and 23 interpretive panels were constructed along the pathway in partnership with the Tahoe Fund to enhance the visitor experience.

The Tahoe Transportation District served as the lead agency through environmental review of the project, and the Nevada Department of Transportation oversaw construction.

“We are focused on working with our local partners to provide a transportation system that is safe, connected, and meets the needs of all users,” NDOT Director Kristina Swallow explained. “This project achieves all of those goals, in part, by ensuring visitors have a safe place to park and access our beautiful lake, limiting dangerous roadside parking and crossings.”

Also created were three new parking lots with about 90 spaces near Ponderosa Road right off of State Route 28 that will have direct access to the path.

The parking spots will initially be offered free of charge before transitioning in coming months to paid parking through the Tahoe Transportation District. 

Revenues will be used to operate and maintain the trail and parking.

Tahoe Transportation District’s East Shore Express and Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) offer bus service directly to the new pathway trailhead through Labor Day.  

The Tahoe Transportation District served as the lead agency through environmental review of the project, and the Nevada Department of Transportation oversaw construction. 

Thirteen organizations came together to partner in support of the project, including the Federal Highway Administration, Nevada Division of State Lands, Nevada Division of State Parks, U.S. Forest Service-Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Incline Village General Improvement District, Tahoe Fund, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Nevada Department of Public Safety-Highway Patrol, Washoe County, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, as well as Carson City and Douglas County. 

The unique partnership effort recently received an American Trails Award for partnership.

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