Spooner improvements include shuttle stop, parking | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Spooner improvements include shuttle stop, parking

Well into the end of spring, when only a few patches of dirty snow dot the ground, hundreds of children gather at the Spooner Summit snow hill armed with sleds, inner tubes, skis and snowboards.

In the summertime, bikers and hikers line the surrounding roads with their parked cars.

The intersection’s popularity has prompted Carson City officials to apply for a $250,000 National Scenic Byway Grant to build improvements at the U.S. Highway 50 and State Route 28 intersection area.

Douglas County Commissioners agreed Thursday to support the grant, pending a $250,000 match from the Nevada Department of Transportation, and on the condition that Douglas County not be responsible for any time or monetary contributions.

NDOT is currently considering the request.

“A decision has not been made yet, but we’re in the process of looking at some funding sources,” said Scott Magruder, NDOT’s public information officer. “It always helps when a county or a government agency comes to the table with funding up front. Hopefully we’ll have a decision in the next few weeks.”

The proposed Spooner Summit Junction improvements include:

–A 60-spot parking area

–Rear access road improvements and repaving

–A shuttle bus stop

–Tourist information displays

–A warming hut

–Bike racks, benches and trash receptacles

–Portable rest rooms

Bill Chernock, vice president of Travel Systems Limited, which operates Zephyr Cove Snowmobile, told commissioners he strongly objected to the improvements.

“If you encourage people to use it, you are just going to have more accidents,” Chernock said. “The amount of serious accidents up there is way out of proportion in relation to any snow-play area in the basin. To encourage the use of the area as a sledding and snow-play area is irresponsible.”

Chernock added that one to two ambulances per week respond to accidents at the intersection, not to mention all the minor injuries that go unreported.

Commissioner Don Miner, who said he regularly brings his grandchildren to the snow hill, disagreed, claiming the improvements would include safety tips and information.

Besides, if the project receives its NDOT match, said Commissioner Bernard Curtis, the snow hill will remain one of the last places in Tahoe where people can enjoy winter sports free of charge.

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