Chamber plea for U.S. 50 funds pays off |

Chamber plea for U.S. 50 funds pays off

by Sally J. Taylor

South Shore business representatives are celebrating a decision by state transportation officials to spend $14 million for U.S. Highway 50 resurfacing.

The California Department of Transportation will begin in August to resurface most of the 40-mile stretch of highway from just east of Riverton to the state line. A one-mile stretch at Echo Summit will be resurfaced as part of another project now under way.

According to Caltrans spokeswoman Pat Miller, the department had originally planned only $2 million to resurface the worst areas of the highway.

“When we started looking at the pavement, we realized we needed more,” Miller said. “The reason we’re putting it on 50 is because there’s a need. The pavement is in dire need of repair.”

The increased allotment was apparently helped along by a letter from South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce President Stan Hansen. He had heard no funds were allocated for the highway and fired off a letter to Caltrans officials explaining the El Nino-battered highway could not stand up under another winter of use without major repairs.

Since the floods of January 1997, the chamber has taken an active role in working with Caltrans to keep the highway, the main route to the South Shore, repaired and open.

“We’re pleased that once again the chamber’s request to Caltrans has come through,” said Chamber Executive Director Duane Wallace. “Irene Itamura (Caltrans District 3 Director) is a breath of fresh air.”

While the chamber’s correspondence did help raise awareness of the need to decision-makers who allocated the funds, Miller said, “when the chamber raised the issue of the pavement, it wasn’t something we weren’t already aware of.”

Repaving is expected to begin Aug. 5 with completion in November, depending on weather conditions. In some areas crumbling pavement will need to be ground out before resurfacing.

Work will be done from midnight Sunday to noon on Friday to minimize the impact to tourism traffic. Delays of 15 to 30 minutes can be expected.

Longer delays are possible during night work.

When possible, some work will be done at night with longer delays, but paving requires warm temperatures to properly set.

“The temperatures determine when we can pave,” Miller said.

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