Crowded roads are sign of summer
With all the tourists, road work, construction and restoration projects crammed into a five month period, South Shore’s U.S. Highway 50 can clog like a cholesterol-saturated artery, slowing traffic to a crawl and trapping people in their metal boxes like slugs on hot pavement.
People are forced to sit in stopped traffic for long periods of time even within the short distances traveled on the South Shore.
The recent three-day closure of U.S. Highway 80 caused increased congestion, because people going from the Bay area and Sacramento were forced to drive through the South Shore.
Numerous projects are reducing available lanes and increasing the number of large, slow vehicles on the road. Some of these projects include; road work along U.S. Highway 50 between F Street and Stateline Avenue by the California Department of Transportation; road overlays by the city of South Lake Tahoe; Park Avenue Redevelopment; the Cove East Restoration Project and various projects by the Nevada Department of Transportation and South Tahoe Public Utility District.
Mark Dinger, spokesman for Caltrans, said Tuesday a project in Camino was halted to alleviate traffic on the South Shore until I-80 reopened.
Sharon Hurd an English and speech teacher at Whittell High School and a South Lake Tahoe resident said the summer traffic has significantly slowed her commute from the Al Tahoe neighborhood.
Even in the summer she needs to go to school to prepare for the next year, and Tuesday when she left her home at 11 a.m. she spent an hour driving from home to school. In order to reduce the inconvenience she often takes her work home instead of driving across town.
“Getting from here to there has been a long process,” she said.
Hurd resorts to her bicycle for most in-town travel. But in the end she said it doesn’t really bother her.
“You just have to be patient,” she said.
For others used to the more congested traffic of the Bay area and Los Angeles, such as five-year resident Al Morch, the traffic even in the summer doesn’t seem too hectic.
“There is nothing here,” he said. “It’s easy.”
Dan Brown, who has lived in South Lake Tahoe his whole life and commutes to the North Shore for his job in Tahoe Vista, said the summer drive is 15 minutes longer than during the shoulder season.
Delmar Price, who is retired and lives in the county, said he avoids U.S. Highway 50 altogether.
“I don’t have any problem,” he said. “I don’t get on (U.S.) Highway 50.”
Before the summer various agencies coordinate with each other to try and alleviate potential congestion by spreading projects out, said Duane Wallace, executive director for the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. But even with planning traffic can get bottle necked.
“It just takes a couple of cars stopping or doing the wrong thing to back up traffic way back,” Wallace said. “But it could have been worse this summer.”
More day trippers this summer have also contributed to congestion, he said.
“We’re aware of it and doing everything we can to move traffic, but it will be an inconvenience,” Wallace said.
Although driving in the South Shore during the summer can be tedious, many residents are used to it.
“Traffic is traffic around here in the summertime, and we all just have to live with it,” said Rich McGuffin, a commander with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
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