Traffic delays expected along Kingsbury Grade | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Traffic delays expected along Kingsbury Grade

Beginning Monday and lasting at least through Wednesday, motorists on Kingsbury Grade’s Highway 207 will experience delays of up to 20 minutes for highway maintenance. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, the Nevada Department of Transportation will apply a slurry seal coat between the junction of Highway 50 and the top of Daggett Pass. The work will be done in one-mile segments to minimize traffic delays. Slurry seal can successfully be applied in temperatures of 60 degrees and higher. Daytime temperatures have been favorable to do the work, which wasn’t the case last month when road crews laid down asphalt on Highway 50 between Stateline and Zephyr Cove. Road crews with Minden-based Carlson Construction couldn’t work at night because temperatures dipped below 60 degrees and the work had to be done during the day. In some cases, motorists had to wait as long as three hours while traffic was reduced to one lane of traffic. “We’re really going to keep an eye on this after what we experienced earlier this summer,” NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said, referring to the Highway 50 construction project. For next week’s project there will be one-way controlled traffic in the work areas. The South Shore Transportation Management Association has asked NDOT and the construction company to keep delays to no more than 15 minutes and that flaggers be sensitive to commute patterns. To be on the safe side, Magruder said delays could be as much as 20 minutes. Steve Williams of NDOT’s maintenance team said in a press release that there will be brief delays in entering or exiting business locations and side streets up and down the grade immediately after the seal has been applied. Access will be restricted during the five to 10 minutes the seal takes to set before it can bear traffic, Williams said.

Closing Highway 50 just a rumor

California transportation officials are now reminding motorists about the scenic-route west following several days when a resurfacing project on U.S. Highway 50 left cars stuck in traffic delays of more than an hour. “We’re trying to figure out a way to minimize the inconvenience to motorists,” said California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Pat Miller. When delays start to go up to an hour or more, the highway advisory radio broadcast at AM-1610 will advise westbound motorists that they can avoid the long delays by using the scenic-route over state routes 89 and 88 to Iron Mountain Road. “It will not be mandatory,” Miller said. She said that Caltrans is not considering closing the road entirely as some rumors have suggested. The alternate route is not completely scenic, however. State Route 88 has its own roadwork with 20-minute delays. That project will probably last through the end of this week. The longer scenic route, even with the potential of 20-minute delays, “is probably preferable to sitting and waiting on Highway 50,” Miller said. “We’ll give them a choice.” As requested by the South Shore business community, no construction work on Highway 50 is being done during weekend traffic from noon Friday to midnight Sunday. The $14 million project to resurface the highway from Riverton to South Lake Tahoe is expected to be completed in November. Following Labor Day, the traffic volume is expected to decrease and the traffic delays should be shorter, Miller said. Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com Visitors Guide | News | Diversions | Marketplace | Weather | Community Copyright, tahoe.com. Materials contained within this site may not be used without permission. About tahoe.com…

Traffic nightmare to stop during holiday

The bad news is that traffic along Highway 50 from Stateline to Cave Rock could be uglier today than it was on Tuesday and Wednesday. The good news is that after tonight, road construction workers will take a break for the holiday weekend, some of whom likely will be hitting the holiday road themselves. The mess that is Highway 50 caught many by surprise, including Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder, who fielded several phone calls Tuesday and Wednesday from angry motorists demanding an explanation as to why traffic was choked between Cave Rock and Stateline. “The phone began lighting up yesterday,” he said. “There was obviously some concern about the delays and I got a lot of calls.” While it was on the books, NDOT officials overlooked informing motorists of a road repaving project between Nevada Beach and Stateline that ended last fall and was resumed again this week. The concentration on that project, a $2 million road repaving operation done by Minden-based Carlson Construction, and the ongoing work at Cave Rock led to long traffic delays. Some motorists reported more than an hour wait. Apparently for one man, the wait was too much. At about 12:15 p.m. Douglas County dispatch received a call from a motorist, possibly under the influence. It turned out that the man was impatient with the road delay, weaving and bobbing out of traffic and hitting his brakes, said Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Mezzetta. The motorist wasn’t under the influence but rather upset by the flow of traffic, Mezzetta said. He was issued a warning. Zephyr Cove resident Sue Jones said it took her more than an hour to get from Bourne’s Meadow on Highway 50 to the intersection of Highway 207 at Kingsbury Grade. “It was appalling. I’m sure it is to the zillions of others who have to drive it. Nevada Department of Transportation said it was a 30-minute wait. It was more like an hour and 30 minutes.” The problem is three-fold, Magruder explained. First the $2.3 million Cave Rock project is under way, where traffic is diverted through one tunnel. That project was on the books and motorists were warned of delays ahead of time. Secondly, the Stateline road work, in which Magruder conceded that motorists were not given a timely heads-up, caused the traffic to slow even more. “Plus you have now people gearing up for the holiday,” exacerbating the traffic flow, he said. Also, both construction crews were delayed because of the late arrival of spring weather where conditions were good enough to work. Beginning Friday, both lanes at Cave Rock will be opened for traffic flow in both directions and instead of work being done during the day, the construction operation will switch to nighttime. The Nevada Beach to Stateline project will resume Wednesday, with traffic delays expected to be about a half hour. Both projects are scheduled for completion by June 24.

Heavy storm reminder of Highway 50 need

Mother Nature has not been kind to U.S. Highway 50 this year. A thunderstorm Sunday seemed to focus its attention over Whitehall, dropping torrential rains on the unstable slope where on Jan. 24, 300,000 cubic yards of mud and debris slid over the highway. Sunday’s storm did not cause a mudslide, defined by slippage beginning below the surface. The deluge did wash off enough surface soil to turn the American River muddy brown and to cover a small stretch of the highway with 3 to 4 inches of mud – unnerving drivers in the process. The California Department of Transportation held traffic between 5:42 p.m. and 6:24 p.m. so loaders could push the debris away. “It was not a slide,” repeated Caltrans spokeswoman Pat Miller. “It was from surface erosion and did not come from underneath.” Any closure makes local officials nervous. The winter closure lasted three weeks and was preceded by a two-week closure beginning New Year’s Day. Together, they wrecked havoc on South Shore tourism. Caltrans scrambled to reopen the highway both times with emergency repairs. Much more needs to be done to stabilize the slope, $11 million more. “It’s a timely reminder as to why it’s important to bite the bullet and get repairs done this summer,” said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis, admitting there’s never a good time for traffic delays on Highway 50. “The bottom line is that we’ve got to get it done.” Specific plans are still in the works but Caltrans officials expect some combination of delays, temporary closures and complete closures with traffic diverted to Iron Mountain Road. City, business and county officials, in league through the Highway 50 Coalition, have been working with Caltrans officials to minimize the impact on the Tahoe economy. “It’s a Catch-22,” Davis said. “We’ve got to get it done but there’s no good time.”

Construction work on South 395

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. –┬áRoad construction to widen the northbound lanes of Highway 395 north of Jacks Valley Road begins 7 a.m. today, and will continue Monday through Friday until the end of October. Work will be ongoing 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. between Jacks Valley Road and where the road widens to three lanes just north of Clear Creek. Construction will be along the shoulder and include grading and paving. The speed limit in the construction zone will be 45 mph. Starting 8 p.m. Tuesday, road work in the travel lanes will begin at night, reducing the highway down to one lane. That work will be done by May 21. Also expect to run into road work that will reduce Kingsbury Grade to one lane on the Tahoe side. There will be flaggers in place while construction is done in the driving lane. Expect a travel delay of up to 20 minutes 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through Friday.

Road construction to cause delays on highways 88, 395

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – Work installing a strip of rough pavement designed to warn motorists they are crossing the center line is expected to continue on Highway 88. Motorists can also expect to run into road work that will reduce Kingsbury Grade to one lane on the Tahoe side. There will be flaggers in place while construction is done in the driving lane. Expect a travel delay of up to 20 minutes 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through Friday. Highway 88 will be down to one lane between Mottsville Lane and the California stateline while a rumblestrip is installed. Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said the rumblestrip is being installed 2,000 miles of rural Nevada highways to improve safety. Workers are expecting to start work on Highway 395 through the Pine Nut Mountains depending on the weather. Magruder said the work could result in traffic delays of 15-20 minutes. “The strips will match the ones on the side,” he said. “We are doing an aggressive statewide campaign to get these on the majority of rural roads.” Magruder said the strips should help prevent head-on collisions caused by inattention. “They are on narrow roads, where if you happen to drift over toward the center they will jar you if you’re drifting off,” he said. “They are going to reduce head-on collisions.” Work to expand Highway 395 north to three lanes between Jacks Valley and Clear Creek roads was scheduled to begin Tuesday night. The construction will reduce northbound Highway 395 to a single lane.

Part of Highway 28 might be shut down this summer

A $2.2 million roads project set for late spring 2009 could cause major headaches for those traveling between Lake Tahoe’s north and south shores. The Nevada Department of Transportation plans to resurface about five miles of Highway 28, roughly from the east intersection of 28 and Lakeshore Boulevard and the Carson City County line, on the way to the Highway 50 intersection, in late May and early June. “It’s really in need of resurfacing. Because of the winters, it takes a beating,” said transportation department spokesman Scott Magruder. “It’s something that has to be done. The road just deteriorates so rapidly that by doing it now, it’s going to save us money in terms of preventative maintenance down the road.” While construction on that stretch of road isn’t rare, NDOT’s proposed resurfacing plan is a bit different from the norm. According to the proposal, a three- to four-mile stretch of Highway 28 ” east from Sand Harbor to the Carson City County line ” will be completely shut down to motorists from Monday morning through Thursday night, for three consecutive weeks. The other mile or so of work ” west from Sand Harbor to the Lakeshore intersection ” will be regular road construction, Magruder said, with traffic control allowing cars east and west via one lane of traffic. For the latter mile, motorists can expect 20- to 30-minute delays, Magruder said. As for the three- to four-mile stretch, which would be open only Friday through late Sunday evening, motorists will have no choice but to seek an alternate route during the week. “Obviously that’s going to present problems for people who commute to Carson City or to South Lake Tahoe,” Magruder said. One of those commuters is Minden resident Tina Barnett, a communications specialist for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. She takes Highway 50 to Highway 28 daily on her commute to the Incline Village Substation. Barnett said she isn’t a fan of the plan to shut down the road four days a week. “Well, not only gas-wise, but time-wise, it’s going to put me behind,” she said. “I leave early in the morning, and now I’m going to have to leave even earlier. I think it’s just totally unreasonable.” Barnett said she would prefer a plan that maintains traffic control throughout the entire five-mile stretch, opening one lane to eastbound and westbound cars, with delays. The problem with that idea, Magruder said, is the stretch of road is so narrow in spots that it would be extremely dangerous. It also would be near “impossible,” Magruder said, to confine delays to the state-mandated 30-minute maximum. “We feel the work can be done in 14 days, working 24 hours a day. The plan is to get in and get out in three weeks, and we’re fairly confident we can get out in three weeks,” Magruder said. “The goal is to be done before July 4, before the Shakespeare Festival, before the summer tourist activity really begins to take off.” According to a 2007 traffic study, approximately 7,700 vehicles travel daily through the project area around the May-June time period, Magruder said, although the number is slightly smaller for the three- to four-mile area that is proposed to be shut down. Despite the proposal to shut down the road, exceptions will be made for emergency vehicles, Magruder said. A second resurfacing plan is being mulled among transportation officials, Magruder said, which would close the three- to four-mile stretch for two weeks, the full 14 days. However, Magruder said the three-week idea is more likely. “Either way, a road closure is definitely the proposal,” he said. The project, which is being funded by taxpayers through the state’s fuel taxes, isn’t in danger of being cut from the budget, Magruder said. “We have the money. It doesn’t look like this one will be delayed,” he said.

New post office planned for Meyers

After three years of delays, construction is expected to begin within two weeks on a new post office in Meyers at Apache Avenue and U.S. Highway 50. The project was expected to start sometime during the second half of May. Real estate specialist for the U. S. Postal Service, Bob MacGill said unexpected delays pushed the project back to now. “There was a variety of (delays),” MacGill said. “There was design delays, traffic delays, approval delays. You name it, we had it.” MacGill said all the permits to begin construction have been approved and he expects Developer Rick Truesdale to pay for the permit sometime next week. Construction should begin shortly after and is expected to be finished by the fall. “The owner has been working to get the approval,” MacGill said. “He has gotten those things. They are supposed to pay for the building permit next week and as soon as they get those they’ll start pushing dirt.” The Meyers post office project was in doubt until recently because the U.S. Postal Service put a freeze on all capital improvement projects in April. The freeze is still in effect, but the Meyers project will not be affected by it. “Fortunately this project was in place before this freeze was put in effect so we are going to go ahead with this project. All other (postal) projects around the lake have been put on hold,” MacGill said. The El Dorado County Planning Commission issued a use permit for the project Oct. 28, 1999. A condition of the use permit required the developer to make road improvements on Apache Avenue to accommodate the traffic the new post office would create. Truesdale said the road improvements will be done during the construction of the post office facility. “The improvements that the developer is doing have not started,” Truesdale said. “The improvements that we do will be done during the course of the construction of the post office.” MacGill said the Postal Service will assume the cost for some of the road work. After all of the delays, Truesdale said he will be happy to get the Meyers project started. “It is going to be underway,” Truesdale said. “Development issues with the post office and getting their approval with plan changes, finishing the encroachment permits with Caltrans-development takes time.”

Weekday road crews begin work

Orange highway cones are sprouting up in the Lake Tahoe Basin as quickly as springtime wild flowers. Construction on near U.S. Highway 50 near the state line is being joined by a $6.1 million repaving project along California State Route 89, near Camp Richardson. “This is a project that was started last year to resurface 27 miles of highway in El Dorado County between Meeks Bay and the Alpine County line,” said Mark Dinger, spokesman for California Department of Transportation. “Eight of those miles were done late last year, and we have 19 miles to go.” Crews are working Mondays through Thursdays on State Route 89 through June. Traffic is restricted to one lane with 10 to 20 minutes delays in either direction. Work stops every Friday through Sunday for weekend traffic. Sgt. Michael Stewart, of the California Highway Patrol, said an officer will be posted at the work site while construction is in progress. “The best thing to do is try to listen to the radio and be aware that this is the way it goes in South Lake Tahoe because the work can’t be done in the winter,” he said. “If you know there is road construction plan extra time and leave earlier.”

‘Y’ road work impact less than expected

After all the doom and gloom traffic jam warnings, the California Department of Transportation is completing the last leg of roadwork at the “Y” intersection without major mishap or disturbing congestion. According to Pete Specter, Caltrans resident engineer for the project, drivers only had to wait between five and 10 minutes. “We were expecting big delays but I think when we got the word out that we were expecting these big delays, drivers took it upon themselves to look at their maps and figure out detours,” Specter said. “If we don’t get rained out, the “Y” section should be done today and then we’ll start at Stateline and work our way back toward the ‘Y’.” The $13.8 million Caltrans project to resurface 40 miles of U.S. Highway 50 began last week and is scheduled to last until the end of June or at the absolute latest, July 4. This year Caltrans is paving 5 miles of U.S. Highway 50 from the “Y” to the Nevada state line. In an effort to avoid past experiences involving frustrated drivers harassing road workers, Caltrans has requested the help of law enforcement agents to keep angry, abusive drivers at bay. “I’m stationed here all day to protect the workers from the drivers. They get real hostile,” said Chris Rettig, traffic officer for the California Highway Patrol. “But this is really not bad, they kept saying it would be 45 minutes to one hour delays, but the worst is only about 15 minutes.” Back roads circumventing the intersection were more popular Wednesday than usual, as drivers tried to avoid getting stuck behind the paving and grinding machines. “We aren’t able to put up any detour information because the traffic re-routing changes from minute to minute as they complete each section,” Rettig said. “We’re keeping all the arteries open, a lot of people stop and ask about other routes and we’ve been keeping them informed as best we can.” According to Specter, and of course weather permitting, paving will begin Monday beginning at the state line and moving toward the “Y” – at the rate of one-third mile each day. More information about roadwork and delays: – Get online at http//www.dot.ca.gov/dist3 – Listen to the Caltrans radio station at 1610 AM – Call (800) 427-ROAD