Carson Area Chamber of Commerce board members voted Wednesday to recommend that a path sought by joggers and bicyclists be pulled from freeway plans if it threatens to delay the project.
Chamber President Steve Browne said the group isn't opposed to open space, bike paths or landscaping championed by groups such as Muscle Powered and Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides.
However, the chamber's 15-member board of directors, which represents more than 1,000 businesses, passed a resolution intended for the Carson City supervisors which say anything that delays the freeway is unacceptable.
The freeway's construction "has been delayed by the wandering skipper, wetlands, design changes. What started out as a simple deal has turned into a long process that has been delayed a year and a half," Browne said.
"Meanwhile, Clark County is in gridlock. They're fighting for every dollar they can get. We need to get the bypass built.
"To my understanding there has been a small, small minority of people coming forward and promoting the bike path. We felt it was time to give the city support in the other direction. We need to take leadership and say don't delay this anymore."
Steve Reynolds, a chamber board member and regional transportation commissioner, said he agreed with the chamber's initiative.
"Carson City has worked very hard to get this first part of the freeway built," Reynolds said. "We've committed our own dollars, more so than any other community in the state. We've worked for years to get where we are.
"We are in support of the bike path, but we're not in support of this if it's going to delay the northern part of the freeway. We don't feel we can afford that.
"It would be great if we had a lot more money to spend. With the competition for state highway dollars from Las Vegas and other areas, we don't feel that Carson City can afford any delays in having our project approved."
In a February meeting Susan Martinovich, Nevada Department of Transportation assistant director, told supervisors the department was committed to working with the city on the path issue, but said it could cause a delay to the freeway.
State transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said there is no intention to delay Phase 1B by even a day, but with extra meetings to find a compromise there are no guarantees.
"We want to keep it in Phase 1B," Magruder said. "It's still being considered to see if it's something that is feasible. There is still a chance it could be separated or taken out of the project all together.
"We've said that all along. Within the next two months we'll have a better idea if it will be in Phase oneB or not."
Phase 1A faces no delays. The state is planning for construction to start on the bridge-building portion of the freeway in April followed by an official ground breaking in the second week of April, Magruder said.
The city and the state are hosting a meeting April 5 to show the public the latest plans for the path. The path's price tag, once estimated a $7.5 million for 3.8 miles, has dropped to $3.45 million. Neither the state nor Carson City has committed to funding the project.
The $7.5 million price tag forced the state to consider removing the path from their transportation plan, a move which caused a minor mutiny with cycling and landscaping advocates.
The State Board of Transportation is tentatively scheduled to hear the issue - and decide whether the bike path gets built or not - May 9.
Supervisors Robin Williamson and Jon Plank recently presented Gov. Kenny Guinn with almost 400 cards and petition signatures in support of the path. Carson supervisors also issued a proclamation supporting a landscaped path along the freeway.
Bids for the $90 million Phase 1B of the freeway's northern leg should be posted in February 2001. Construction is slated on the northern leg, which extends from Lakeview Hill to Highway 50, from 2000 to 2003. The second freeway leg from Highway 50 east to the Spooner Summit Junction has a $160 million price tag, and as of yet no funding. Construction is expected to begin on the southern leg in 2004 and to finish in 2007.