Rock stands in way of plans for 30-mile Lake Tahoe path

ZEPHYR COVE -- Backers of a proposed scenic bikeway on Lake Tahoe's east shore say they have identified some potential roadblocks but are gathering momentum for the 30-mile route.

Project leaders told the Carson City Board of Supervisors last week they want to keep the route off U.S. Highway 50 as much as possible for the good of bikers and motorists alike. The path would connect Stateline on the south shore to Crystal Bay in the north.

One of the biggest concerns is Cave Rock, where the highway passes through a pair of narrow tunnels just north of Zephyr Cove.

The Washoe Tribe considers it a sacred site and doesn't want the path skirting the edges.

Some commissioners don't like the idea of closing a lane in one of the tunnels either.

The Nevada Stateline-to-Stateline Bikeway Project involves local, state and federal agencies, including Carson City, Douglas and Washoe counties.

"We want to get people out of cars and onto bikes," said Karen Mullen, project manager. "Carson City is a critical link."

Safety is a priority, as well as addressing concerns about private property and environmental impacts.

"I prefer that the bikeway be off Highway 50 as much as possible," Supervisor Molly Walt said. "And I also don't want to see the highway down to one lane through Cave Rock."

Proponents have looked into a route that would take the bikeway down the Old Lincoln Highway route, which roughly detours around Cave Rock on the lake side.

But Mullen said the Washoe Tribe doesn't want people traveling around either side of the rock, which has been the target of past lawsuits over rock climbing.

"The tribe is not interested in us using the Old Lincoln Highway," Mullen said. "They are also not interested in us using the trail system around the other way."

Two lanes pass in each direction through two different tunnels, which were cut through the rock just above the lake's shore.

Mullen said state highway officials believe it would not be unreasonable to close a lane in one of the tunnels.

Supervisors John McKenna and Karen Abowd said they don't like the idea of closing a highway lane.

"I'd like to see the Cave Rock area looked at more closely," Abowd said. "Foot traffic, cars and bikes could be a problem, especially in the summer."

The cost of the project will not be determined until after the design phase, Mullen said. She said a similar bikeway built in 1981 in the Washoe County portion cost about $100,000 a mile.

The project will be funded from a state ballot measure voters approved in 2002 funding conservation and preservation grants. It included a $5 million bond for a bike path .