It’s the home stretch for grading projects | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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It’s the home stretch for grading projects

Sally J. Taylor

It’s a race against time for the Tahoe Basin construction industry.

By the end of today, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency requires all grading projects that move more than 7 cubic yards of soil to be complete in order to prevent winter silt runoff.

That means contractors must have foundations laid and driveways paved or erosion control measures set up to last the winter.

Last week’s wet weather slowed a few projects.

“We’re much happier than we were last week,” said Debra Watkins, the bookkeeper for Pedersen Underground-Paving Contractor, Inc., regarding this week’s sunny weather.

The contractor is rushing to complete an oil and water separating system for a Bijou parking lot and still get it repaved by the end of the day.

Steve Yonkers, owner of Yonkers Construction and president of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, is also facing a time crunch. Monday his crews were still digging to repair a foundation.

“We’ll be pouring the (new) foundation on the 15th,” he said.

Another project will be stabilized until work can begin again on May 1.

“Some we get to and some we don’t,” he said.

City Councilman and TRPA representative Hal Cole is familiar with the crunch time. A contractor by profession, the owner of Cole Enterprises is ahead of the game this year.

“In past years, it’s been quite frustrating,” he said. “Despite all the best intentions to have all the work done, (planners, inspections, deliveries and weather) causes can delay.”

Since about 1974, TRPA has limited the grading season from May 1 to Oct. 15, said Pam Drum, the agency spokeswoman. The season is set to concentrate work requiring soil disturbance when there is less chance for storm activity.

“Stormwater runoff takes loose, disturbed soil with it … into streams and rivers and into the lake,” Drum said.

Cole has approached the TRPA to consider giving work extensions based on actual weather conditions, now allowed for emergency public works projects.

“Dates are so arbitrary,” Cole said. “Some year’s are so wet, October is really too late (to still be digging). Other years are dry and work can continue longer.

“When I brought it up (to TRPA) a couple years ago, they didn’t seem to be willing to try it.”

With the regulation etched on the construction calendar, experienced contractors have learned to judge what they can and cannot accomplish in one season. But even the best time lines inevitably get skewed by circumstances and deadlines.

And the race is on.


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