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Progress on Incline, Sand Harbor path construction

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If you’ve driven from Incline Village to South Lake Tahoe or Carson City this summer, you’ve probably spent a lot of extra time enjoying the views… while sitting in traffic on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore.

Dubbed by the Tahoe Transportation District as “America’s most beautiful bikeway,” the completion of the three-mile path from Incline Village to Sand Harbor along State Route 28 is projected for the beginning of winter and is currently more than half done. The multi-use path, for which construction began in 2016, is part of a larger project to connect bike paths all the way around Lake Tahoe and into Truckee.

Pre-construction, the mountainside road is the only access route for more than 1 million recreationalists per year. According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, the path will help improve public safety along the busiest areas of the east shore, which accounts for 25 percent of the total crashes on State Route 28.

Shoulder parking along the highway will be relocated away from dangerous cliffside areas, and expanded off-highway parking with connectivity to the path are part of the project goals, according to NDOT.

“About 90 new parking spots are going to be put in by Tunnel Creek Café and the Ponderosa Ranch area,” Nick Johnson Chief of Project Management at NDOT said. “That three mile stretch will all be a no-parking zone, everyone will have to take the path, but it should help with safety a lot.”

Environmental improvements are also a driving force behind the project. According to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s website, “The Lake Tahoe Basin is socially and economically dependent on recreation and tourism. Rapid growth in population centers outside the Basin such as Sacramento, the Sierra Foothills, and Reno promises increased demand for Lake Tahoe as a vacation getaway.”

On top of improving transit and trail connections, air and water quality is also a priority since traffic congestion and its correlation with pollution are of serious concern for TRPA and NDOT.

“We are setting up infiltration basins that will capture drainage from the roadways and filter out any pollutants so that it doesn’t go into the lake,” Johnson said. “We have numerous water quality projects in place south of Sand Harbor as well.”

Some Incline businesses like Village Ski Loft, could see benefits with the new path.

Manager Aaron “Elko” James predicts an increase in bike rentals which will help the vitality of the shop during summer.

For SNC students, the path will provide easier mobility for those without cars.

Sophomore Tucker Brady gets around primarily on his electric longboard.

“It’s kind of sketchy,” he said. “Someone didn’t see me with their car and almost hit me, so a path would give me somewhere to go on.”

However, some students predict issues as a result of the new path.

“The beaches already have limited space, so having easier access will make them overcrowded,” Senior Bridget O’Brien said. “Sand Harbor is already packed without the bike path access.”

Other speculation about residents losing “local” beaches is of concern.

The parking by popular Hidden Beach will be eliminated near the end of construction. However, Will Hoida, dean of students at SNC says, “The first mile (of the path) is on the hillside, not the beach side, so I think those first coves that are closest to Incline will still be local spots because tourists won’t know how to access them.”

NDOT urges people to recognize that while physical completion will be done this year, the path will not be open to the public until spring of 2019.

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Progress on Incline, Sand Harbor path construction