TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) - The opening of a new segment of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway west of Reno means cycling enthusiasts are about two-thirds of the way to completing the dream that began 10 years ago to follow the Truckee River more than 100 miles from Lake Tahoe to its terminus at Pyramid Lake.
Recent construction of a replacement suspension bridge at Fleish Dam just across the Nevada line into California added 3.5 miles to the bike trail and pushed the completion mark to 65 percent in terms of total combined segments.
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Organizers hope that as early as another 10 years from now the riverside trail will stretch the entire 116 miles from the Truckee's mouth at Tahoe City, down the Truckee Canyon along Interstate 80 through Reno and finally to the high desert lake on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe reservation near Nixon, Nev.
"It always takes longer to build a trail than you think, but we think the progress has been terrific,'' said Janet Phillips, president of the nonprofit, all-volunteer Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway.
Phillips spent a year investigating route feasibility at ground level before going public with the concept in November 2003.
"At the time it was just a vision, but there was a really strong favorable response from Tahoe to Pyramid Lake,'' she said told the Sierra Sun.
By year's end, the project had more than 200 supporters and $30,000 in cash, according to the bikeway.
The first completed route section - an off-highway bicycle route between Reno and Verdi - opened in May 2005. Finished segments now include stretches from Tahoe City to Truckee, Verdi to Sparks, Mustang Ranch to Clark and Wadsworth to Pyramid.
The trail is paved in urban areas and dirt in rural areas - a characteristic that regulars find appealing.
"It's rustic,'' said Chris Askin, a Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway advisory member.
Over the past decade, the organization has spent about $500,000 on the trail, not including partnership contributions, Phillips said. Funding sources have included federal and state grants, private donations and in-kind service donations.
"I think it's one of the unique programs in the country in which you can find people of various skills, whether you're an architect, an engineer, a trail builder or a fundraiser, and you can get a trail built two-thirds of the way through in 10 years,'' said Jim Kidder, a bikeway board member.
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration honored the trail with an award earlier this year for Environmental Excellence in Nonmotorized and Multimodal Transportation. Last year, it was named the Best Long Distance Trail by the Coalition for Recreational Trails.
The next planned section is the five miles from the Fleish Bridge to Floriston, Phillips said. It will be funded by a $356,000 federal grant through the Recreational Trails Program. Construction is expected in fall 2014, with completion in 2015.
Remaining segments on the drawing board would connect Boca to Floriston, Sparks to Mustang and Clark to Wadsworth.
Phillips said completing the route within 10 years depends on the availability of funding and in some cases approval from landowners.
"There are many factors outside our control,'' she said.