Another Echo Summit boulder crashes onto Highway 50

Mountain Democrat Report
Caltrans crews worked to remove a rockslide that happened about 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Provided/California Highway Patrol

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — California Highway Patrol officers in South Lake Tahoe reported a large boulder fell onto Highway 50 at Echo Summit Wednesday morning.

Just two weeks ago a rock slide there brought down massive boulders that blocked the highway for about a day.

Wednesday’s rock slide, which was reported at about 8 a.m., involved a boulder about 6 feet tall, along with large rocks Caltrans crews were able to move into the westbound lane. The boulders that came down March 3 — one estimated to be about 14 feet tall — required blasting to reopen one lane on Highway 50. Motorists Wednesday morning were able to pass in the eastbound lane.

A rock slide on Echo Summit brought boulders down onto U.S. Highway 50 Wednesday morning.
Provided/California Highway Patrol

Since March 9 Caltrans workers have been removing unstable or potentially unstable rock from Echo Summit’s cliffs above Highway 50.

According to a California Highway Patrol spokesperson, there have been no deaths related to rock slides and very few injuries, just some damage to passing vehicles. The side of a truck was smashed by a large rock that came down just hours after Highway 50 reopened March 4.

“It’s very difficult to predict a rockslide in advance but our South Lake Tahoe maintenance staff does monitor the cliffs daily and is trained in rock-scaling and explosives for boulder blasting,” Caltrans public information officer Steve Nelson previously told the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

“Rock slides are often triggered when snow melts into water during daytime warmer temperatures and then freezes overnight. The ice inside cracks in the boulders and can expand the rock and cause it to shift. Our geologists believe that was the case with (the March 3) slide.”

The Caldor Fire is also responsible for recent rock slides.

“Hundreds of hazardous trees throughout the corridor have to be removed either because they were destroyed by the fire or the terrain can no longer support them due to damage from the fire,” Nelson said, adding that the Caldor Fire caused instability on the slope and the burn scars impacted erosion.

The Tribune contributed to this article.

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