Highway 50 work plan released | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Highway 50 work plan released

Sally J. Taylor

Weekend traffic on U.S. Highway 50 will be free of delays during road repairs, expected to begin July 21.

The repair schedule was released Tuesday by the California Department of Transportation during a meeting in Placerville with the Highway 50 Coalition.

“Under no circumstances would weekends be affected in July and August,” said Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce.

Protecting weekend traffic, the lifeline of many businesses along the corridor and on the South Shore, was a major goal of the coalition, led by business leaders from the Tahoe-Douglas, South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado chambers of commerce.

The group met repeatedly with Caltrans officials, including District 3 Director Irene Itamura, to work out a plan with the least economic impact.

“Through Labor Day, the contractor would be allowed to do work with minimum traffic interference,” said Caltrans spokeswoman Pat Miller.

Weekday delays would be limited to 30 minutes to move equipment and weeknights could have one-way traffic controls.

“From noon Friday to noon Monday, there will be no traffic interference,” Miller said, though work off the highway would continue.

Highway repairs, which will cost $8 million, include slope stabilization, culvert enlargement and paving.

“Hopefully, the weather will be good and we can get done by October 15 (when temperatures and weather are more unreliable and Caltrans’ Fish & Game permit expires),” Miller said.

When closures are necessary, which will be limited to weekdays after Labor Day, Iron Mountain Road will be designated Alternate U.S. Highway 50. To prepare for increased traffic, work on that road will begin in mid-July. Winter damage repair, shoring up and paving will cost about $1.3 million.

“If indeed the closures have to happen, we’ll be sending (visitors) through Hope Valley in a beautiful time of year,” Wallace said.

Although the contractor has not been selected yet, the language of the contract will ensure the agreement between business leaders and Caltrans will be followed, Wallace said.

Caltrans also agreed to donate $150,000 to a marketing plan, organized by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, to keep visitors coming up on Highway 50 or Alternate Highway 50.

“What we don’t want to say is that there’s no way to get to Tahoe. There is,” Wallace said.

Details of the plan include:

n Repairs, improvements and repaving of Alternate U.S. Highway 50, also known as Mormon Emigrant Trail or Iron Mountain Road, will begin in mid-July with completion expected in mid-August.

n The Highway 50 project will begin around July 21.

n There will be no traffic interference between noon Friday to noon Monday until repairs are completed about October 15.

n Weekdays from about July 21 through Labor Day, between about 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., traffic delays of up to 30 minutes will be allowed for construction traffic movement.

Exact times will depend on traffic volumes.

n At night, from about 8 p.m. to 10 a.m., one-way traffic controls may be imposed by the contractor.

n After Labor Day, weekday traffic from noon Monday to noon Friday will be detoured to Alternate U.S. Highway 50.

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