ELKO – Cyclists are a few years away from having a new bike path connecting them from Elko to the California Trail Interpretive Center.
Starting at Exit 298, the seven-mile path will run along Interstate 80 to the Hunter Exit and include signs pointing out the historical significance of the trail, said Larry Hyslop, a member of the California Trail Heritage Alliance.
“Our goals are to tie the California Trail Center to the path to have a link with the city, and to create another recreational opportunity,” Hyslop said, adding that the idea came from Helen Hankins, president of the Alliance.
Speaking to the Elko City Council on Sept. 11, Hyslop said he wanted to inform the city of the plans, showing an aerial photograph of the path’s location prepared by the Nevada Department of Transportation and presenting an overview of the route.
“It is a project that is being done on NDOT land, by NDOT,” Hyslop said. “Right now it’s in the scoping phase and risk assessment phase, but it’s in the database, which according to NDOT means it’s going to happen.”
The funding for the path will come from NDOT, Hyslop said in an interview the day after the meeting.
“Part will be federal and part will be state money,” he said.
Hyslop said an upcoming “kick-off” meeting would seek suggestions and feedback from the community.
“[NDOT is] asking for as many stakeholders as possible to come to that meeting to give input … before they go into the design phase,” Hyslop said.
A request to NDOT for comment was not returned by press time.
The path will be developed using frontage road along I-80 and a livestock underpass for cyclists to switch from the south side of the interstate to the north side.
Although the path will be “as far away from the freeway as possible,” on the north side of the interstate, Hyslop said a fence will also be constructed between the path and the freeway, which is a requirement by NDOT.
Once the path is complete, Hyslop said NDOT would hand maintenance duties over to Elko County, which would then determine who maintains the path – a local organization or the city.
Citing how the county gave maintenance to the Spring Creek Association for the bike path that runs along Lamoille Highway, Hyslop suggested something similar could occur.
“Maybe, in this case, the county will turn around and give that maintenance to groups like Elko Velo or the California Trail Heritage Alliance, but maybe it could be something the city could help with, also,” he said.
In announcing the plans to the city council, Hyslop said he was hoping to encourage the community to come on board with the project.
“I’m trying to build buy-in, and get people excited about it and talk about it,” Hyslop explained, adding he hopes to spread the word and talk to more groups and organizations about the path for additional support.
He also hopes it will increase awareness for more designated bicycle lanes within the city.
“We’re hoping that there will be bike paths all the way through the city and out to that point,” he told the city council.
Possibly, NDOT could develop a route taking cyclists to the bike path’s trailhead from West Idaho Street to Mountain City Highway, Hyslop said, which might add to the county’s master plan for bike paths stretching from Lamoille Canyon to the Carlin Tunnels.
“There is a plan and that’s their ultimate goal, but it’s going slowly,” Hyslop said.
For those interested in learning more or partnering with the California Trail Heritage Alliance, contact Hyslop at 385-8870 or email email@example.com.
“We’re hoping that there will be bike paths all the way through the city and out to that point.” — Larry Hyslop California Trail Heritage Alliance