Road construction turned Kingsbury Grade into a gated community at the top of Daggett Summit on Thursday.
The worker assigned to the gate said he was told he would be the most hated man on the mountain as he had to tell people to turn around.
“There were a lot of people around 5:30 a.m. who were trying to get through,” he said.
By 6:30 a.m. the number of motorists trying to talk their way past the barrier had dwindled. That didn’t mean traffic at the barrier had stopped though.
Kingsbury Grade residents received gate access passes they can use to pass the barrier at the top of Highway 207. Motorists were using their passes to go both ways on the first morning of the closure designed to reduce traffic across the summit while work is conducted on the Lake Tahoe side of the sole direct link between the lake and Carson Valley.
The operator of the BlueGo Bus is also getting ready for increased ridership with the closure of Kingsbury Grade on Thursday morning.
Two BlueGo buses were standing by at the base of the grade on Thursday morning. Buses and shuttles will be allowed past the barrier, as will emergency vehicles.
Tahoe Transportation District Manager Carl Hasty said the district will be monitoring ridership and scheduling buses with a capacity to match demand.
“Through community and business outreach we understand the potential increase in demand during this timeframe and will adjust accordingly,” Hasty said. “Our hope is that residents and visitors alike have a positive experience utilizing public transportation.”
Kingsbury Grade will be closed near Daggett Summit to through traffic, just east of Tramway Drive until May 23 and again Sept. 2 through October 2014. Nonresidential traffic will be required to take Highway 50 over Spooner Summit.
During the road closure prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day, the BlueGo will offer rides over Kingsbury Grade. The district’s 20x route runs east and westbound over Kingsbury Grade daily with five departure times and nine stops. A regional one-way fare is $4, 20-ride tickets are $60, and monthly passes are $120.
Construction will continue at night during the summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day with Kingsbury Grade open to through traffic. One lane will be open at a time while night work is being conducted. Q&D Construction spokesman Will Morgan said workers will begin at the bottom of the Grade. They will eventually remove and replace 6 inches of pavement, going down to the roadbed. Work is scheduled to be completed by July 4, 2015. No work will be done during the winter months.
The road will be open with no restrictions during daytime, weekends and holidays through the summer.