Tahoe trail challenges engineers | nnbw.com

Tahoe trail challenges engineers

Anne Knowles
A 210-foot long by 12-foot wide boardwalk made of treated Douglas fir beams and stringers with a redwood deck supported on helical piers protects Burke Creek.
Courtesy Lumos & Associates |

Construction begins this week on the next phase of a Lake Tahoe bike and walking trail designed by Lumos & Associates in Carson City.

The new portion will run about 1.25 miles from Elks Point Road to Round Hills Pine Resort, north of Stateline and south of Zephyr Cove, and extends a one-mile segment starting at Kahle Drive that was opened last year, with a restroom and picnic area for the Kalhe Drive trail head completed in June. The completed work was done by Herback General Engineering in Minden, while Q&D Construction Inc. of Sparks is building the next piece, a $1.4 million project.

A final phase, planned next year, will run about 2,000 feet between Kahle Drive and 4-H Road, along Laura Drive, according to Chas Macquarie, project manager with Lumos.

The trail is the southern portion of a demonstration project for the Stateline to Stateline Bikeway, a planned 32-mile bike trail along the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. The project, part of a larger effort to make the lake more accessible by foot and to reduce car traffic and pollution, is commissioned by the Tahoe Transportation District, but about a dozen entities are involved, including the Nevada Department of Transportation, the U.S. Forest Service, Douglas County and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Working with the various agencies proved to be one of the challenges of the project for Lumos.

“They have same goal, to get a trail around as much of the lake as possible,” says Macquarie. “But each has different requirements. We have to make sure all their concerns are addressed in the trail design.”

In the just completed phase of the trail, Lumos designed a 210-foot long by 12-foot wide boardwalk made of treated Douglas fir beams and stringers with a redwood deck that was supported on helical piers to traverse Burke Creek. Macquarie likens the piers to corkscrews that had to be installed with a hand-held torque driver because large equipment couldn’t be hauled into Rabe Meadows.

“From an engineering standpoint, that was the most interesting part,” says Macquarie. “We didn’t know how deep they’d have to go. We had criteria, once resistance reaches a certain amount. Then we had to load test them for traffic.”

Traffic isn’t just human. A water truck makes frequent visits to the site to irrigate the native vegetation replanted around the trail.

The next phase, due to be completed by Oct. 15, will require rockery walls, says Macquarie.

The logistics for the southern demonstration project were easier than for the northern portion, which is why Lumos and its partners decided to tackle it first. The terrain was less troublesome and there is only one landowner – the Forest Service – making permitting less complicated.

The northern project will run from Incline Village to Sand Harbor Beach. The first phase has been designed and the environmental documents should be completed by the end of year with construction in 2014. Lumos is also working on a concept design to put about seven miles of the northern bikeway on top of a sewer line that exports effluent from the lake to Carson Valley.


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