Kingsbury Grade may open today |

Kingsbury Grade may open today

Christina Proctor

Fear of more shifting soil and the need to rebuild a retaining bench kept Kingsbury Grade closed Tuesday.

Officials now are predicting the highway will open this afternoon, but said the work could continue into Thursday.

A large rock slide Monday closed the popular commuter route from the Carson Valley to the Lake Tahoe Basin around 2:30 p.m. A west wall of the highway gave way about a mile up from Foothill Road. Scott Magruder, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said engineers don’t know what caused the slide.

“We have some ideas. It could have been several natural springs in the mountainside that saturated the soil. Once the soil reaches the saturation point it starts to slide,” he said.

By Tuesday afternoon, workers with V & C Construction had removed about 7,000 cubic yards of rock and soil from the roadway, Magruder said. Cost estimates for the cleanup and work are around $100,000.

“We have to stabilize the slope before we can allow traffic back on the road,” Magruder said.

Danny Lopez, a NDOT supervisor for the Gardnerville area, said V & C Construction had finished work clearing off the curve’s land bench two weeks before the slide. The benches are giant stair steps in the mountain wall that are intended to catch and retain debris from the slope above.

“We have to re-create the bench in that turn before the road can be opened,” Magruder said.

Signs at both ends of grade warn travelers about the closure.

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