Update on Carson City Freeway Trail

Chas Macquarie provided this update on the potential freeway bicycle trail.

As most people familiar with the Freeway Trail saga know, NDOT was forced to design and construct a multiuse trail on Phase 1 of the freeway from Silver Oak Dr. (formerly Broadleaf) to Hwy 50. However, there are sections that are bike lanes on two streets – Retail Court and Russell Way adjacent to the new Boys and Girls Club. As part of the deal the City cut with NDOT, NDOT is not required to construct a trail on subsequent phases of the freeway, though they did construct the east-west link that connects the linear ditch trail to Butti Way where it joins up with the trail the City paved on the south side of 5th Street. So there is now a good east-west trail across Carson City east of Roop Street. NDOT also agreed to design the freeway so that it did not preclude the future addition of a trail “to the extent practicable”.

Over the years since the completion of Phase 1, Chas and Anne and a few others have been talking to the City and NDOT to remind them of the need to leave room for the future trail on Phases 2 and 3. NDOT has paid some lip service to this goal, but there remains some real key constriction points, primarily at Hwy 50 and Fairview Drive where constructing a trail will be difficult.

City Supervisor Pete Livermore has been the main political force at the City pushing NDOT to leave as much room for the trail as possible. There have been several meetings between NDOT, various City departments, NV Energy, and Muscle Powered to discuss options. These seem to be making some progress finally, when it was pointed out that it is not very far to connect Hwy 50 to the new extension of the linear park trail, which is a key link, and NDOT had some good suggestions on how this could potentially be done. Another factor that gives some urgency to the situation is that NDOT is preparing to sell off some of the surplus remnant parcels adjacent to the freeway that they no longer need. If these parcels are sold to developers without any requirement for a trail easement, then the options for a trail will be severely limited.

At the last working group meeting Anne suggested that the City hire Lumos & Associates to do an alignment alternatives study that would identify and evaluate alternatives, and recommend a preferred alternative for the trail from Northridge Drive to Fuji Park. A phasing plan would be part of the study and the first logical phase is the piece between Northridge (or Hwy 50) and the linear park trail. Jim Gallegos of NDOT suggested we look at an alignment along the east side of the freeway in this section, that could include the NDOT access roads round their water quality basins. From field inspection by Anne and Chas, it appears that this is feasible.

The City asked Lumos for a proposal to do the alignment study, which Lumos duly gave them, and it appears the City is going to hire Lumos to do the study, though there is not a contract at this point. When the study is done and an alignment recommendation made, then the City’s bicycle element of their transportation plan can be amended and they can go after grant funding to complete design and construction of the phase between Northridge and the linear park trail. After five years, there appears there might actually be some real progress on this.

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