We shouldn't have to choose

The disagreement between the Carson City Chamber of Commerce and proponents of a walking/biking path along the freeway is unfortunate in that it's happening at all.

They should be pulling together for both a bypass around Carson City's congested traffic and for a path that would provide biking and walking alternatives to motorized transportation.

Instead, the Chamber of Commerce took a vote last week that was a direct shot at the efforts of groups such as Muscle Powered that have worked diligently to get both the city and state to live up to their promises.

Those promises, as recently as 1998, include a path. Not necessarily the ridiculously expensive one that was initially proposed - a $7.5 million project that would have wound underneath the freeway in big box culverts, with lighting, drainage and retaining walls.

With the help of Muscle Powered, that cost has been trimmed to closer to $3.5 million.

The chamber board's concern is that the cost and effort that go into a bike/walking path could slow construction of the bypass itself. While board members say they aren't opposed to the idea of a path, they don't want its construction linked to the bypass itself.

Both visions have merit.

Carson City's top priority must be the bypass, because traffic through Carson City will be at a standstill by the time it is built. Business leaders are right to worry about any delays in what is already a 20-year timetable.

However, one of the reasons that Carson City is so congested is that there is no way other than a car to get from one end of town to the other. Lack of foresight in designing Carson City's roadways led to the motor-only system we have now. Bicyclists have been eagerly awaiting a citywide biking route almost as long as motorists have been seeking a bypass.

The true vision for Carson City should be in finding a way to do both. That's what we believe city leaders have been working on, and that's what we believe a portion of our "Quality of Life" sales-tax dollars should be providing.

The city has earmarked $500,000 toward bike paths from the Quality of Life tax revenues over the next seven years; still, the city could use some $10 million worth of bike lanes and paths.

The capital city shouldn't have to decide between a freeway and a biking/hiking path. We should settle for no less than a way to drive around Carson City, as well as a way to walk or pedal through it.


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