Civic leaders: Keep alternate road plowed this winter |

Civic leaders: Keep alternate road plowed this winter

Greg Risling

Business and civic leaders have received few complaints about Alternate U.S. 50 but want to ensure that another route is available during an emergency this winter.

Most of the calls have been about excessive speeding and the inconvenience of closing Highway 50. Alternate 50 has carried the brunt of Sierra traffic to and from Tahoe for a month. According to El Dorado County Supervisor Ray Nutting, residents are coping with the temporary hassles.

“They can live with these situations for the time being,” Nutting said. “People knew the job had to be done now and they have handled it pretty well.”

Nutting reports there has been some confusion and concern in the Apple Hill area, between Placerville and Pollock Pines. Store owners are worried that visitors from the Bay Area aren’t aware that the detour is east of Apple Hill in Pollock Pines.

Businesses also want to give motorists a viable option when a major snow storm hits the area. A hot topic at the Highway 50 Coalition meeting on Thursday was the seasonal status of the Mormon Emigrant Trail. The California Department of Transportation must decide whether to keep the road open full-time or to send plows after a significant snowfall.

Maintaining the road on a daily basis could cost nearly $1.5 million a year. Tahoe’s coalition representatives favored the idea of Caltrans crews on full alert.

“Doing near to nothing on Mormon Emigrant wouldn’t play well with our members,” said Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. “Something in between would probably work from our end.”

Kirk Ledbetter, who represents Harvey’s Resort Hotel and Casino, agreed with Wallace about an alternative route during bad weather. He added too many businesses – let alone local traffic- have been adversely affected by road closures.

“We can’t predict storm patterns, but preparing snow removal crews would help,” Ledbetter said. “We do need a back-up route because without any tourists coming to Tahoe, it’s like turning off the water.”

Caltrans will make a decision on Mormon Emigrant Trail next month.

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