City might pony up money for horse path over freeway |

City might pony up money for horse path over freeway

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

The idea for a freeway overpass devoted to horse riders on the southeast side cleared its first hedge when a panel of residents recommended the city provide money to help build it.

Members of the Open Space Advisory Committee this week recommended use of up to $50,000 as a match for yet-to-be-obtained grants to build the separate equestrian access span over the freeway from Valley View to Prison Hill.

“We feel there’s a real safety issue out there,” said Mike Torvinen, president of the Equestrian Alliance. “There are 360 parcels there zoned for livestock” in the neighborhood from Koontz Lane to the soccer fields at Edmonds Drive, and from Clearview to Silver Sage drives.

The Nevada Department of Transportation contends horses can be ridden over sidewalks and bicycle lanes along vehicle overpasses planned at Koontz and Clearview. And the Unified Pathways Master Plan approved by the Board of Supervisors in April describes the need for a nonmotorized, multipurpose crossing over the freeway at Valley View. Paths separating equestrians from the others aren’t mentioned.

Combining these types of transportation, however, “is inherently unsafe and will almost certainly result in serious accidents and injuries,” Torvinen asserted.

Sheriff Kenny Furlong sent a letter to the committee asking that the equestrian group’s concerns be considered.

“Funneling livestock onto overpass bicycle lanes and sidewalks adjacent to motorized traffic raises questions in regards to public safety,” the letter said.

Total cost to build the bridge over a section of the freeway’s southern leg is estimated cost up to $1 million. The path would be no more than 500 feet long and 20 feet wide.

A barrier of eight to 10 feet on either side of the proposed bridge would keep the horses from getting spooked by other travelers and potentially injuring themselves and the riders, Torvinen said.

Smaller barriers would be placed at both entrances to keep out all-terrain vehicles.

The freeway in this area between Fairview Drive and Highway 50, section 2B, will run below ground and will contain no interchanges or access points.

That section is scheduled to be completed by 2010.

Torvinen said the group focused on the open-space funding for its seed money because the department is better positioned financially than the Parks and Recreation Department.

Federal and state funding sources will be sought to pay for the overpass. The group work with local government agencies as needed to obtain the money.

The supervisors still must approve the idea before the funds are provided.

“We are exploring all possibilities and all options,” Torvinen added.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.