Highway 50 watched by electronic eyes | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Highway 50 watched by electronic eyes

Sally J. Taylor

Since Jan. 24, when U.S. Highway 50 closed for three weeks due to a massive landslide near Whitehall, many eyes – electronic and human – are keeping watch.

The U.S. Geological Survey has several instruments measuring ground movement, rainfall and underground changes.

The data is fed automatically to Sacramento state offices then into computers, explained California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Pat Miller. From there the USGS receives and processes the information.

The processed data is sent via computer to Caltrans’ 24-hour dispatch center.

If changes go above a predetermined threshold, lights flash and an alarm sounds, Miller said. Key Caltrans officials are automatically paged and can call up the pertinent data on their own computers to assess the danger.

If the situation warrants concern, the highway can be closed.

While Caltrans officials have more detailed information at hand, anyone with an Internet connection can look at preliminary U.S. Highway 50 data at a public USGS web site.

The address is:

http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Projects/CalifLandslide/framework.htm/.


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