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Busy road work season ahead

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / City street supervisor Leo Tate inspects the crumbling asphalt on Tamarack Avenue.
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Lake Tahoe visitors and residents need not just look up to see the impact of last winter. Looking down will provide a glimpse of roads that took a beating.

State, county and city crews are preparing for a hectic schedule of road improvements, ranging from surface sealings to pothole repairs. This is despite limited budgets and the high price of asphalt. There’s a lot of deferred repair that most crews complain worsens the streets – especially after a wet, hard winter like this last one.

“This winter kind of put us over the edge in our streets. Some are hanging by a thread. Our criteria is we do the streets in need that still have integrity,” South Lake Tahoe Street Supervisor Leo Tate said Wednesday before surveying problem areas.



Another problem? The cost of crude has caused the price of asphalt to surge, swallowing a $450,000 budget. The city will pay $60 a ton versus the $45 unit charge it usually shells out. That’s $75,000 more it has to pay out for the 5,000 tons to overlay Blue Lake, Marjorie, William, Becka, Tamarack, D and possibly Young and Eighth. The list is expected to come before the City Council in July for the work to start in August.

With a fluctuating budget over the last few years, Lake Tahoe Boulevard represents the last repaving three years ago. But it’s a new day for city street improvements. The city recently budgeted $60,000 for a pavement management system to prioritize streets due for repair.



Tate pointed to Tamarack Drive as a typical example of a street that’s considered “middle of the road” – not too far gone but in need of work. The edge of the roadway is chipped away. And like so many other streets in town, Tamarack, a favorite shortcut between Ski Run Boulevard and Blackwood Road, is littered with alligator cracks and growing potholes between the cuts in the streets from installing utility lines.

“If we don’t protect this road, we’ll lose the curb,” he said.

That’s the idea behind placing many Sierra Tract streets on the list. The city underwent an erosion control project last summer. Now it needs to resurface the roads, as only a third of the original road remains intact.

Lee Robertson, who lives on Blue Lake Avenue, said Wednesday he’s pleased his street is due for overlaying this summer.

“It’s going to be an improvement,” he said, while raking his yard. Robertson even warmed up to the idea of having the boulders on the side of the road, a contentious issue for some neighborhood residents.

The city has also targeted for overlay Becka Drive, a major shortcut in the Bijou area.

“Bijou’s been kind of neglected,” he said on tour.

The county joins the action

El Dorado County knows all about that after experiencing a wet winter like this past one. Tahoe street supervisor Tom Halverson surveyed the work he has before him this summer. Halverson has no overlay budget and wants one to finish Pioneer Trail from Glen Eagles to Highway 50.

“We’ll have to do some patching. The money hasn’t been available,” he said.

But there are streets that need pulverizing and patching. One of the streets, Aravaipa Street, has been torn up down to the dirt.

“I saw a Corvette weaving in and out to dodge all the humps and bumps,” he said.

On Oneidas Street, three warning signs were placed in the middle of the road to keep motorists from driving over the holes. Some streets like Mewuk Drive and Oglala Court look like dynamite was lit beneath the road. Halverson carries a list of 70 streets including Elks Club Drive in need of patchwork repairs. It’s longer than usual.

Expect delays on Highway 89, fewer on the Nevada side

Caltrans said it expects up to 20-minute delays on Highway 89 from the “Y” to D.L. Bliss State Park because of a $500,000 road project planned this summer. The state intends to coat the road with a layer similar to the one laid up and over Luther Pass. Spokesman Mark Dinger said the agency has asked the contractor to spread the seal as far over the fragmented bike lane as possible. Last summer, complaints came in when the roadwork stopped at the edge of the vehicle lane.

Meanwhile, the Nevada Department of Transportation will juggle some small erosion control jobs on Highway 50 that won’t tie up traffic like last summer.

Proposed roadwork

n Blue Lake Avenue

— Marjorie Street

— Young Street

— William Avenue

— D Street

— Becka Drive

— Tamarack Drive

— 8th Street

— Nadowa Street

— Aravaipa Street

— Oneidas Street

— Oglala Court

— Mewuk Drive

— Highway 89

— Highway 50


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