Cave Rock highway and tunnel project under way |

Cave Rock highway and tunnel project under way

Jeff Munson

Motorists can expect delays of up to 20 minutes today through Friday along Highway 50 at Cave Rock as the Nevada Department of Transportation begins work on a $2.3 million tunnel rehab project.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane through the tunnel as crews set up to widen the road, replace paving, reconstruct a median and install decorative rock.

The rehab is slated to end June 24 with delays expected throughout the duration of the project, said NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder. Construction through Friday will force the closure of the eastbound tunnel, with flaggers on the road signaling for people to slow down and merge into the westbound lane. Reno-based Granite Construction is in charge of the project.

Barriers made with stamped concrete to match the color of Cave Rock will be installed at entrances of both sides of the old volcano core.

Matching the barriers to the colors of Cave Rock, a tower of granite that straddles Highway 50 between Glenbrook and Zephyr Cove, increased the cost of the project by about $700,000, Magruder said.

Installing roadside barriers that better blend with the natural environment is being done to meet Tahoe Regional Planning Agency guidelines but also out of respect for the Washoe tribe, which considers Cave Rock a sacred place.

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The work will involve removal of some guardrails near the tunnels, but the project is distinct from a project planned by NDOT that calls for a new guardrail and a rumble strip project along Highway 50 between Spooner Summit and Glenbrook.

That safety project, still in the design phase, stirred up controversy at the TRPA in December because of scenic issues regarding the guardrail and noise issues involved with the rumble strips.

Apart from the barriers, the project calls for improved drainage in the Cave Rock tunnels, particularly in the northbound tunnel where water collects and turns into ice in winter.

NDOT has also given clearance for minor intersection work, also set to begin this week at the intersection of highways 50 and 28.

Meanwhile, NDOT is ready to launch its third and final year of installing support walls from Bourne Meadow to Zephyr Cove. The project will begin May 1 and is expected to be completed by Oct. 15.

Last summer a crane used for the construction project toppled off the highway and landed on the roof of a guest house. No one was injured in the accident.

The roadwork is being funded with a mix of federal and state dollars: nearly $8 million from the federal government; $2.8 million from the 1996 Nevada Tahoe Bond Act; and $700,000 from NDOT.

– Tribune staff writer Greg Crofton contributed to this story.