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.