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July 22, 2014

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Proposed 30-mile trail to give access to Red Rock Canyon

A proposal for a new multi-use recreational trail that would run through Red Rock Canyon is moving forward after the Bureau of Land Management held its third public meeting to review the project on Thursday.

At about 30 miles in length, the trail would begin at the northern entrance to Red Rock just west of Charleston Boulevard, follow State Route 159 and end in Blue Diamond at the junction with State Route 160.

Bicyclists, joggers and walkers could share the trail, with more casual and family-oriented users in mind, said landscape architect Justin Atherton-Wood of Shapins Belt Collins.

The two-way trail would be approximately 10-feet wide with 2-foot shoulders on each side.

Phillip Hawk, a Summerlin resident and avid road biker, welcomed the idea for a new trail. He said the vast majority of cyclists who ride in Red Rock Canyon are experienced bikers who are comfortable riding on the shoulder of the highway at higher speeds.

"This proposal looks phenomenal," Hawk said. "It would bring thousands of people out there to ride who can't right now, or are afraid to. Especially parents with their children who are afraid of the traffic."

The trail would be between one-eighth and one-quarter of a mile away from the highway, Atherton-Wood said, providing users with a better chance to experience the natural environment as opposed to traveling adjacent to the road.

The surface will most likely be paved concrete or asphalt. Finely crushed and compacted rock was previously considered, but high maintenance costs and a shorter lifespan led to it being removed from the list.

"A trail made of (rock) would have to be replaced every five or six years," Atherton-Wood said. "Concrete or asphalt would last 30 to 40 years."

The project has also received an endorsement from Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who said the trail would bring new ways for residents and visitors to enjoy the natural environment of Red Rock Canyon.

"After hearing from local bicycle groups regarding their very serious safety concerns about riding on State Route 159, I became a strong supporter of this project," Reid said in a statement released Thursday.

But some residents remain skeptical about the project. Brian Wainscott of North Las Vegas said he was concerned about safety and the current speed limit of 60 mph along State Route 159.

"The speed limit needs to be reduced," Wainscott said. "Sixty miles per hour is way too fast for all the new recreational planning that is going on here."

BLM representatives said they are still gathering public input and there is no construction timetable or estimate of the cost of the project as of yet.

The project's environmental assessment should be completed in March, and in November the project team will begin studying cost estimates. Funding for the project will come from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act.

To view maps of the proposed trail system, visit the BLM's Web site. For more information about the project, e-mail Jed Botsford, lead planner, at [email protected].

Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or [email protected].

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