South Lake Tahoe Greenway bike-trail project expected to be multi-year process
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — An ambitious California Tahoe Conservancy goal to connect different neighborhoods together via a shared bicycle path will be a little longer in the making, according to one of its planners.
Sue Rae Irelan, an associate environmental planner working on the South Tahoe Greenway Shared Use Trail, attended a Tuesday, Dec. 1, Lake Tahoe Community College board meeting and said that while the project received all the necessary funding from a state grant, tons of work still needs to be conducted before the conservancy breaks ground.
“The part of the process we are in right now is getting our ducks in a row so we can accept the grant and receive the money from Caltrans,” Irelan said.
The conservancy, in partnership with the City of South Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe Community College, received $1.928 million from the state to build two phases of the Greenway trail.
In addition, the CTC is using $1 million of its own money, along with $700,000 from the college and $399,000 from the city’s congested management air quality funds.
“We realized this project would require partners,” Irelan said.
The project was originally born in 2002 and later approved by the conservancy board in 2011. The entire project would span 3.86 miles throughout South Lake Tahoe.
One phase from Herbert Avenue to Glenwood Way was completed this year. It connects to an existing portion that runs to Van Sickle Bi-State Park at the state line.
“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to merge this community together,” said college president Kindred Murillo.
The next two phases will extend the trail south to complete the connection to Bijou Community Park, the college and the Sierra Tract neighborhood, from Glenwood Way to Sierra Boulevard.
“One of the compelling things for this project is that it is linking the campus into the Bijou and Sierra Tract neighborhoods, where a lot of the community lives,” Irelan said.
According to Irelan, she expects future amendments to the adopted project to make portions of the trail more direct.
Now that the conservancy has the grant, it will launch into creating work plans, conducting environmental review and public outreach, engineering and, finally, construction.
Caltrans will need to conduct a National Environmental Policy Act assessment since federal dollars are involved.
“This is a multi-year process and we won’t be riding this trail next year,” Irelan said. The conservancy expects the project to start construction in 2019 and finish at the latest by the end of 2020.
College president Kindred Murillo said the land swap is required under the California Education Code in order to contribute college’s $700,000 share. Some of the land near Trout Creek will become part of the campus.
Irelan, however, said the swap will benefit its partners in the long run. One example are portions of Bijou Meadow, where the city built its erosion control project, and land adjacent to Bijou Community Park on Al Tahoe Boulevard.
“With this land exchange, the city would just own that land outright,” Irelan said. “If they had to maintain the erosion control project, they wouldn’t have to notify us.”
For land swaps involving the college and the conservancy, Irelan said it would benefit both entities. The project includes environmental components that would reduce the impact on sensitive lands, like the Trout Creek floodplain.
The conservancy would be able to monitor it, while the college would be able to continue its outreach efforts.
“This whole corridor would be a showcase for the skills that the conservancy would bring and the skills and responsibilities the college have,” Irelan said.
For additional information on the South Tahoe Greenway Shared Use Trail, visit tahoe.ca.gov/ctc_projects/south-tahoe-greenway-79.
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