Keep that race rollin’
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – While bicyclists race in Amgen’s Tour of California in May, California Highway Patrol and organizers will be racing to close roads ahead of the peloton and open them after the group passes.
The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, the California Higway Patrol and race operators Medalist Sports are drafting a plan that will explain details of the rolling road closures that will follow the cyclists around the lake during the first stage of the race on May 15.
At no point will the entire course around the lake be closed.
“Our goal is to make sure our residents and visitor have enough information,” said LTVA director Carol Chaplin. “Our (other) goal is to make it an easy stage for the tour to navigate through.”
As riders make their way around the lake, California Highway Patrol will drive in front of them throughout the entire one and a half laps, closing the highway and intersections in front of the riders and opening them after they’ve passed.
Though some traffic may be forced to pull over as the race passes, the road closure plan will minimize inconveniences to the locals who live in the area, said race director Jim Birrell.
“Because these are professional athletes, we have a pretty good idea of what speed they’ll be going,” Birrell said. “We’re pretty accurate at knowing what time they’ll cross certain intersections.”
A detailed plan of what roads will be closed at what times will be released about April 15, Birrell said.
A local committee is working on the logistics, including alternate traffic routes, said Alison Green, the event coordinator for the LTVA. They expect traffic delays to be no more than 35 minutes, depending on the weather and how fast the cyclists’ pace is, Green said.
An intersection in Cool, Calif. was closed for about 20 minutes while the competitors and their crews rode past last year, said Chaplin who was watching the race.
“It was kind of cool to watch,” Chaplin said. “A car came in front of the crews and closed the roads. The bikers came through, the car moved, and traffic was moving in both directions again.”
California Highway Patrol has been assisting the race since its inception in 2005.
The main coordination is coming out of the CHP’s Sacramento office, said spokesman Jeff Gartner. The South Lake Tahoe office is happy to be involved, Gartner said.
“We’re always excited to help,” he said. “Something this big doesn’t come to Tahoe very often.”
The race is scheduled for a Sunday morning in May when there isn’t usually a lot of traffic, compared to a summer weekend, Chaplin said. Crowds at the start line will likely be disbursed because there will be two opportunities to see the riders pass through the city, she said.
For the first time in it’s history, the Tour of California will pass briefly through Nevada. Road construction on the Nevada portion of Highway 50 and Highway 28 will not affect the race, said Scott Magruder, a Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman.
Amgen has not yet applied for its CalTrans encroachment permits that allow the organization to close the roads, which is not unusual this early before the race, a CalTrans spokesperson said.
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