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October 5, 2012
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Road woes near close

Road construction that has backed up traffic and hurt businesses along Lake Tahoe Boulevard this summer is expected to conclude this month.

Caltrans spokeswoman Deanna Shoopman said contractor Disney Construction should have paving work completed on the Trout Creek to Ski Run Boulevard project within two weeks.

"As long as we get good weather, we'll be able to wrap up that paving this construction season, which is big," Shoopman said.

Landscaping work is expected to continue in 2013, but won't include the lane closures and traffic delays seen during the past two summers, Shoopman said.

A separate, but similar, project that includes water quality improvements, roadway widening and paving between Ski Run Boulevard and Wildwood Avenue is planned for the spring. The $7.3 million project is expected to be completed in one construction season, Shoopman said. Delays of approximately 10 minutes are expected.

The completion of the majority of the work on Trout Creek to Ski Run project will come as relief to owners of businesses along the stretch of highway impacted by the construction. The work has turned the driveways of some businesses into a puzzle of orange cones and steel plates.

Alexis Opie, the owner of Jazz Kat Cafe, said she closed up shop between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday last week because of the road work, which included exhaust "gassing out" the shop.

"It just wasn't worth it," Opie said. "We ended up losing money every day and we still are, but I hate to disappoint the people who come here and brave the construction. Our fear is that if we close, people are just going to assume we're not open. It's been brutal."

Although the business, which opened last October, returned to its regular hours this week, Opie said she has seen average daily business cut by more than half - from $400 to about $140 during the past two months.

Mike Henry, the owner of Auntie Q's Antiques said he has been closed all week due to the construction.

"As far as the summer goes, I'm off 80 percent," Henry said. "These past weeks I've done zero."

This year's construction is the worst he's ever seen and seems "inordinately protracted," Henry said.

The possibility of closure looms.

"The summer is the best time for retail and I don't think I can make it through another winter," Henry said. "Permanent closure is definitely a possibility until I can find another place that's affordable."

Shoopman said Caltrans understands the concerns. She said she thought flaggers were doing well helping drivers navigate the construction.

"It's always a concern getting people into their businesses, we do realize that," Shoopman said. "We know how important that is."

The project is contracted through fall 2013 and is well ahead of schedule, Shoopman said. The only potential hold up now is the weather, according to the spokeswoman. She said contractors need the temperature to be 55 degrees and rising in order to asphalt work.

The National Weather Service in Reno is calling for slight chances of rain showers, and highs in the low 60s and high 50s, Sunday night through Wednesday night.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 5, 2012 07:56PM Published Oct 5, 2012 07:48PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.