NDOT runs over bikers, hikers

We're tempted to say the Nevada Department of Transportation has declared open season on walkers and bicyclists, but we suppose that would be a bit of an overreaction.

Neverthless, that was the first thought that crossed our minds when we saw the 11th-hour plan outlined by NDOT for Carson City supervisors to consider today as a "compromise" on the controversial and expensive hiking/biking trail proposed along the route of the new freeway.

Before we go much farther, let us say there are some good things to the plan. NDOT would leave some room along the route for a future path, and build a small part of it. And it will put in 400 box trees.


Otherwise, though, NDOT is proposing to paint stripes along city streets as its idea of a bike path. A walking path, well, apparently we've got sidewalks for that purpose. And landscaping? There are the 400 trees.

In other words, Carson City is pretty much on its own if it wants to try to soften the impact of a massive freeway through town. And that's what the issue boils down to.

Carson City wants and needs a bypass. People here have been planning forever, and now it's under construction. But not all residents yet comprehend the effect it is going to have on Carson City itself - a 30-foot-tall dirt-and-concrete barrier down the city's spine.

Hundreds of residents - with the groups Muscle Powered and GROW in the forefront - do understand the consequences. They have worked hard to get NDOT to step up with a plan that will provide a workable path, a human element amid the asphalt.

Until this week, we thought of it as a nice element to the plan, something Carson City needed, and we supported the efforts to make sure both the freeway and a hiking/biking path got built.

But this week NDOT showed an arrogance that makes us hopping mad. It held back any mention of this alternative plan through months of public meetings, while city officials and involved residents labored hard - and in good faith - to come up with satisfactory designs.

Frankly, it smacks of blackmail by a state agency against the capital city. Sign off on this half-baked excuse for a trail, NDOT appears to be saying, or wave goodbye to future cooperation on highway projects.

And the new plan was sprung on such short notice that there will be virtually no time for residents to comment on it. That's not too surprising, because plenty of the trail's supporters are well-versed on the issues and would rip it apart. For example, it would funnel bicycles onto College Parkway and then Carson Street - two of the busiest streets in town, neither of which is wide enough to accommodate bicycles.

No, NDOT didn't literally run over the hikers and bikers of Carson City this week. It only seems that way.


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