Echo Summit project to resume in September with 2 week closure |

Echo Summit project to resume in September with 2 week closure

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The $14.1 million bridge replacement project on Echo Summit and U.S Highway 50 is set to resume construction on Sept. 13.

During a portion of the construction project, U.S Highway 50 over Echo Summit will be fully closed for 14 days for bridge demolition work and the installation of new girders.

From Sept. 18 through Oct. 2, motorists will have to use alternative routes. Detours will be in place for motorists while the road is closed for traffic.

“We know this is an inconvenience, but there are other ways,” said Steve Nelson, Caltrans District 3 public information officer. “Detours that can bring people to and from Tahoe include state routes 89, 88, 49 and 16.”

The detours will add approximately 35-45 minutes to travel between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe according to Nelson.

The construction zone will include Caltrans Echo Maintenance Station and span eastward 1.2 miles.

Commuters who use Echo Summit daily can apply for a pass to use Johnson Pass Road. This pass is only available to local residents who use the highway frequently.

“Johnson Pass is not set up for high volume traffic,” Nelson said.

Nelson said this pass is not for people planning a vacation or appointments, in such cases they need to use the detours.

“We already have 500 applications and we expect we will get more,” he said.

Caltrans is vetting each pass application. Passes will be issued electronically in the next couple weeks.

The construction project was originally supposed to run this last spring.

However, due to supply issues with the girders, construction was placed on hold. Since summer is a peak season for South Lake Tahoe, Caltrans did not resume work this summer and the project was postponed to the fall.

“We are not saying Tahoe is closed, you can take detours,” said Nelson. “We don’t want to discourage people from coming.”

The replacement of the bridge will ensure seismic and current safety standards. The existing bridge was originally built in 1939 and is in need of mandatory repairs.

“It is remarkable that it has stood the test of time,” said Nelson. “We don’t want to take risks, we need to be proactive.”

He said that this project has been on Caltrans’ radar for some time because it could potentially turn into a public safety concern if they aren’t proactive about revamping the bridge.

While the timeline on their website says that the project completion will be this December, Nelson said that is a conservative estimate and they anticipate being done before then.

“We are going to get in, get out and open the road,” he said

For more information about the project or to apply for a local pass, visit

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.