A major pavement reconstruction project on Kingsbury Grade is moving forward and could result in delays or a reliance on alternate routes into South Lake Tahoe for some commuters.
The proposed project will consist of repaving the existing roadway, addressing safety issues and improving roadway drainage and water runoff.
It will cover nearly four miles of Kingsbury Grade between Highway 50 and the summit.
The Nevada Department of Transportation discussed its project at a Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday.
“The roadway is falling apart,” said NDOT project manager Pedro Rodriguez. “It needs to be reconstructed.”
Natural springs underneath Kingsbury have been bubbling up for some time and deteriorated the road, he said. Therefore, water improvements will need to be made throughout the sector, along with a 13-inch, full-depth reconstruction of the roadway.
Other improvements will include the addition of a left-turn lane into Tramway Drive for motorists traveling westbound on Kingsbury, the addition of streetlights near pedestrian crosswalks in a commercial area near Highway 50 and the rehabilitation of certain sidewalks to meet federal requirements.
The state initially anticipated spending about $8 million on the project. But it now expects to spend somewhere between $14 million and $15 million.
Nevertheless, the biggest issue raised among Kingsbury community members and county commissioners Thursday seemed to be how NDOT plans to deal with traffic during the project.
Now, NDOT plans to pursue a 12- to 18-month construction schedule, which would close Kingsbury at the summit to regular traffic coming from Carson Valley before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.
Only emergency, construction and public transit traffic would be allowed from Carson Valley during that time. Full access would be granted to anyone heading up Kingsbury from Highway 50.
On the other hand, work between Memorial Day and Labor Day would be conducted at night. One lane alternating traffic only would be permitted at night, and one lane would be open in each direction during the day.
Dealing with traffic was a big issue at Thursday’s meeting. A few commissioners, including Doug Johnson, expressed how vital the roadway is as a connection between the South Shore and Carson Valley.
“It’s kind of like closing the Bay Bridge,” Johnson said of the project.
About 5,000 vehicles travel over Daggett Summit per day, according to the state.
The next steps in the project involves NDOT seeking approval from the Transportation Board in March, followed by more public meetings around mid-March or early April.
Construction is expected to begin in May.