Carson City residents may end up paying for most of a multi-use path if it's to be built along the Carson City freeway.
A new plan calls for the Nevada Department of Transportation to build part of the path and to stripe the rest on city streets.
Until Tuesday, the plan called for a $3.5 million multi-use path to follow the freeway right of way from Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50 East.
Under the latest plan, the state would build a small section of path from a Lompa Lane cul-de-sac to Northridge Drive. The path would then become a bicycle lane striped along Northridge to Roop Street and then to College Parkway, where it would head west to Carson Street. The price of the new plan is uncertain.
The state would pay for those improvements and dedicate the necessary right of way for a future path to be built at the city's expense. As for landscaping, the state is offering to plant 400 box trees along the roadway as well as provide the infrastructure for an irrigation system, which would also be paid by Carson City.
Anne Macquarie, president of Muscle Powered, one of the groups working for a hiking and biking path along the freeway, said the plan is "completely unacceptable."
"It's not a path, it's a lane," Macquarie said. "The resolution says it would comply with the state and local plan, and that's not true. On the plans it is a multi-use trail. This is a lane they're talking about. They're taking a trail that would be safe and could be used by anyone and then they're putting it on some of the busiest streets in Carson City. That's just not safe."
The state Board of Transportation is scheduled May 9 to decide on the issue of including a path in the freeway's construction.
The plan came to light Tuesday as a proposed resolution for Carson City supervisors to consider Thursday. They will be deciding what recommendation they want to send to the state board regarding the path.
The city resolution says with the new plan, the state would not have to remove the path from its state transportation plan, the action which prompted many local residents to fight for the path.
City Manager John Berkich said the new plan only surfaced within the last few days and "certainly comes late in the process."
"It's unfortunate we didn't learn of it prior to this," Berkich said. "I'm not saying it is the best solution. This may be a compromise alternative. With this, one, we know it will be recommended by NDOT to the state board. And two, it is one the Board of Supervisors might want to support. Perhaps this is an opportunity to be able to support something with NDOT rather than holding up the project."
Path proponents are drafting an alternative resolution for the supervisors to consider Thursday supporting the earlier plan for a state-funded path along the freeway.
In the meantime, Macquarie said the groups are furious with the state.
"We have been waiting for months to be able to hear from the actual director of NDOT. He's held back this proposal until he knew the public couldn't do anything about it," Macquarie said. "I think NDOT is showing its hand. They're showing they don't know how to work with the public. They're showing they have no understanding of what multi-modal transportation is.
"We're looking for the supervisors to do the right thing and stick to their guns to get a decent facility people can use."
Mary Fischer, president of Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides, said the landscaping plan of 400 trees was nowhere near the program the group has advocated.
"We haven't asked for any trees," she said. "We're asking for topsoil on the slopes so native plants can grow. The trees are nice, they'll look good in the gateways, but what happens to the slopes? There's a lot of slope to cover and the trees aren't going to cut it.
"I thought we'd come farther than this."
Mayor Ray Masayko said the alternative may be the best Carson City can do.
"Unfortunately, we have to deal with the hand that is dealt to us," Masayko said. "This may or may not be the final answer. It may not be the ultimate in what (path supporters) hoped to achieve, but it doesn't mean the facility eventually can't be built."
Masayko said he doubts NDOT would recommend the earlier plan. In light of that, he said, anything is better than nothing, especially if it poses no threat to delaying the freeway. He also said it wasn't fair to minimize the importance of the state dedicating the right of way for a future path.
"I hope the advocates for the path will probably see this as something that is a heck of a lot better than, 'no, forget it,'" Masayko said. "We're not caving, we're accepting the alternative."
If you go:
What: Carson City Board of Supervisors
When: Thursday, 8:30 a.m.
Where: the Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.