Historic trail vs. future freeway

One week removed from the annual retracing of the Pony Express route through Nevada, trail buffs are worried about the future of the route through Carson City, with a new freeway slated to cut across the historic path near the south end of town.

Depending on the specific version of the trial, and there are many since individual riders may have had their own ways to get from station to horse-swapping station, there are several interpretations of just where the freeway and trail would cross.

The path Pony Express riders take each year, down Curry Street, across Carson Street at Clearview Drive and then south on Frontage Drive, would run riders smack into a planned interchange.

Local Pony Express enthusiast Dale Ryan said he expects city and state transportation officials to be able to work something out so horses have access to the famed path, but nobody has taken the project on and nobody knows just where the money would come from.

The issue is not new, other local equestrian groups have already proposed an overpass solely for non motorized uses at the south end of town that would allow horses to get from one side of the freeway to the other. Estimates peg the cost for such a project at $1 million, however and Carson City's transportation budget is stretched thin every year. And the state has already said it wouldn't fund it.

"We would all love to have a nice new bridge stretching over (the freeway) for non motorized use," but there just isn't enough money for everything people want, said Jim Gallegos, Nevada Division of Transportation's Carson Freeway project manager.

State transportation officials are working with equestrians to make sure the once-a-year reride can make it across the freeway, but a permanent crossing is not a state project, Gallegos said. "It's more of an issue between the city and these folks (equestrians)."

Once a year isn't good enough for trail riders like Ryan, who question the need for preserving a historic trail if it can't be accessed.

"It should be open to the public in general to hike bike or ride," Ryan said. That's what a national trail is for."

An official from the National Parks Service, which oversees the National Historic Trail, is scheduled to meet with equestrian advocates and city and state officials today. Lee Kreutzer, a Cultural Resources Specialist with the NPS, said the meeting is mostly for her to get acquainted with this section of the trail and the issues that surround it.

The NPS keeps track of national trails and helps promote and plan projects for them, Kreutzer said, but it doesn't have much, if any, actual authority over them because the agency doesn't own the land the trails are on.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at cmcconnell@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.


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