City might fund half of bike path

Carson City may commit up to $1.7 million to pay for the proposed freeway multi-use path.

Residents will get a look at where the bike path will go during a Wednesday session hosted by the city and the Nevada Department of Transportation.

But to show that Carson City is serious about building it, the Regional Transportation and Parks and Recreation commissions will also discuss funding options which would pay for half of the estimated $3.5 million cost of the path.

If the idea is approved by commissioners, city supervisors and the state, the money would come from RTC road tax dollars and Question 18 Quality of Life funds, payable over the next 17 years at up to $50,000 a year from each fund.

"We've been working for six months on this. We're sending a message to NDOT that this project is important enough to put money toward it," Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said.

The state would pay for the path up-front and the city would pay back its portion.

Deputy City Manager Dan St. John said the idea was to create "a city package matched by an NDOT package."

"We would put up some money, they would put up some," St. John said. "Timing-wise, in preparation of the state transportation meeting in May, we thought it was appropriate that the (commissions) look at some of the details and make a recommendation to the board.

"If the entire bike path facility is built along the freeway, a continuous, first-class, multi-use facility that goes from Lakeview Hill to Clear Creek Road, it will have a huge positive impact on the community.

"There are a lot of people interested in multi-use paths in this community. I think Muscled Powered has surprised a lot of people with the grass roots support on the issue.

"I bike. I know there are places where people go as a destination just to ride their bikes. It's an attracter. People use things like that in choosing a community.

"This meeting is about educating the public and talking partial finance. These boards have to answer the question, 'Is the city willing to step up and pay for half of (the path)?'"

Estimated initially at more than $7 million and then sliced to $3.5 million by cheaper designs, the cost of the path could drop even more.

Retaining walls along the path make up about $1.5 million of the path's costs. Park Planner Vern Krahn said the Parks and Recreation Department is working on securing two key parcels of right of way that could drop the retaining wall cost by another $1.13 million.

A section between Arrowhead and Broadleaf would save $810,000 and another parcel along Emerson would eliminate $318,000 from the costs. Until the deals are done, though, the costs must be kept in the estimate, Krahn said.

"We have made every effort as NDOT has been working through the design process to go to the property owners," Krahn said. "It's a huge undertaking. In my opinion the city has been serious about this project, but this will be precedent-setting for NDOT."

Several local groups such as Muscle Powered and Gardeners Reclaiming our Waysides created a grassroots effort started in 1999 to ensure that the freeway would be landscaped and would have a multi-use trail skirting its base. The cost of landscaping hasn't been addressed.

Bike proponents say the path will be the spine of the city's 45-mile, $11 million bike path system, providing an alternative form of transportation and creating a recreational draw for Carson City.

The Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce announced last week it wouldn't support the multi-use path if there was a chance it could delay the freeway. State and city officials have both said they don't foresee it delaying construction of Phase 1B, which goes to bid in February 2001.

More than 850 people were mailed notices for the meeting, which will also be televised from the Community Center's Sierra Room.

"There's been a lot of talk about the silent majority," Krahn said. "They're important. If there is a silent majority in favor or opposed to this, they should come or at least watch on the local cable channel. This is a good, healthy conversation the city needs to have about its transportation system."



What: Joint meeting of the Carson City Regional Transportation and Parks and Recreation commissions and the Nevada Department of Transportation regarding the freeway multi-use trail

When: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Where: The Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.


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