More bicycle path funding may be coming Lincoln County’s way.

Newly appointed Lincoln County Regional Development Authority executive director Jeff Fontaine appeared before the County Commission board this week seeking support for a request the group is making to the Nevada Department of Transportation.

The board approved by a 4-1 vote the request to submit an application to NDOT for federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant funds. The funds would be used to construct a multi-use path along State Route 317 from Caliente to the Kershaw-Ryan State Park entrance.

He said the request has been generated “because of the growing interest in bicycling in the county. It’s kind of becoming an economic driver here. We are very interested in seeing what is now a system of connecting bike paths, which will help to encourage more bicycling tourism.”

He said there are currently 40 miles of off-road bicycling in the planning stages, and up to 15 miles of that are within the Kershaw-Ryan State Park facility as well as other multi-use trails for hiking, biking and equestrian use.

If accepted, the TAP grant funds would pay for 95 percent of the full project costs with the remaining five percent coming from non-federal funds.

Fontaine explained the project would involve 2.4 miles starting at the railroad depot in Caliente, south along Clover Street to SR 317 and on to Kershaw-Ryan. A separate bike lane would be added to the existing roadway on Clover Street and a 10-foot wide multi-use path on 317, separated from the roadway on the west side.

He said an NDOT Right of Way permit would need to be obtained, but did not foresee problems there.

“There are going to be a number of places where earthwork will need to take place to level out the terrain.”

Resource Concepts of Carson City, whom the County has used for a number of years, created a preliminary project cost estimate of around $832,000. The five percent match the County would need to supply would be about $42,000.

Fontaine, a former director of NDOT, said LCRDA has received support letters from the County School District and the local Cooperative Extension Service, and hope to soon receive support from the BLM, State Parks and the state tourism office.

He said the project applications have to be submitted by Feb. 26 and selections will be made by an in-house NDOT committee this spring. He felt the project had a good chance to receive the funding, but made no guarantee.

Commission chair Paul Donohue asked, “Why would not the City of Caliente be the project sponsor?” Fontaine said most of the project would be outside of the city limits. In addition, Caliente would not be able to complete plans for annexation in that direction by the Feb. 26 application deadline. Since the deadline is so soon, he noted, what the LCRDA was asking for is “for someone to step up now to be the initial sponsor.”

“But,” he added, “Caliente could be approached about helping out with a portion of the five percent match.” Commissioner Jared Brackenbury asked Fontaine to approach the Caliente City Council about helping with the cost sharing.

Donohue questioned that Caliente would only be paying a part of the match, but would get all the benefit of tourists coming to Caliente to use the trails and was the one dissenting vote on the motion.