With fall construction wrapped up to renovate a footbridge, the first public trail from Nevada into the Truckee River canyon west of Verdi is expected to open to hikers and bikers in the spring of 2013.
According to a press release, in late October, a $370,000 contract was signed with Granite Construction Company to replace much of the suspension bridge over the Fleish dam, said Janet Phillips, head of the Pyramid-Tahoe Bikeway group.
Once the bridge work is completed next spring, Phillips said the bikeway will extend another six miles -- three miles from Crystal Peak Park to the end of Quilici Ranch Road in west Verdi and then three miles into the canyon on a dirt road owned by the local water utility.
Phillips, a retired water company executive, first began scouting a trail route through the steep, majestic canyon a decade ago. Her dream: filling in the gaps for a bikeway to follow the river on its 116-mile journey from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.
That evolved into a non-profit group, run by volunteers and fueled by donations and grants. So far, the group has worked to open 32 miles of new trail with willing property owners in Nevada.
The current project is the group's first move into California.
The 200-foot-long bridge will have new cabling for support, new wooden planks and safety railing. The cables are suspended from towers at both ends of the bridge and those structures also will be replaced. The towers will be supported by new anchors of concrete.
One anchor was poured a year ago, the second anchor was added this month and the rest is to be finished in the spring, said Ted Fuetsch, a retired city of Reno architect, who is overseeing the project for the bikeway group.
In all, the bridge will cost about $440,000, including environmental, planning and other costs, Fuetsch said. Kautz Environmental and HDR Engineering donated much of the professional services for the project.
Most of the money comes from state and federal grants plus private donations. A fundraising effort recently raised the necessary money to complete the last part of project financing, including generous participation from both Nevada and California donors, including the Tahoe-Truckee Community Foundation.
The footbridge hangs several feet above the dam so TMWA workers can add flashboards to the dam and raise the water level. Water is pooled for a canal to supply a hydroelectric power plant, Phillips said.
Upstream of the bridge, the next stretch of the trail will extend to Farad and negotiations with land owners and a trail design are now underway, Phillips said. It will be a difficult, tight three miles, routing the trail between Interstate 80 and the Truckee River, she said.
From Farad, it's several more miles to Floriston and the trail will follow an old road. "With luck, we hope to get to Floriston in 2014," Phillips said