Lots of of roadwork planned | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lots of of roadwork planned

Rick Chandler

Long-suffering motorists may soon be experiencing further delays in El Dorado County – some right here in South Lake Tahoe – due to upcoming road repair and erosion control projects. But don’t worry, it’s all for the greater good.

Considering the alternative, that is.

A series of erosion control water quality projects may tie up portions of Pioneer Trail beginning on June 1, according to the El Dorado County Department of Transportation.

The project will center on culvert crossings near Cold Creek, Trout Creek and Heavenly Valley Creek – the three main tributaries to Lake Tahoe that run beneath Pioneer Trail. The project will include shoring up the sand traps and retention ponds which lay beside the creeks and serve as the lake’s natural filters. No road closures are planned, but county workers occasionally may close off a lane of traffic, according to El Dorado County Supervising Civil Engineer Bruce Lee.

“The work in the area should conclude sometime in October,” Lee said. “In the near future we will have a public meeting that will present our work schedule in more detail, so that motorists will know what their options are.”

South Shore motorists will be playing a game of travel chess this summer. Caltrans is planning a repaving project on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, which will continue through the summer. So those wishing to avoid traffic will need to do their homework and plan ahead.

The theory behind the water control projects on Pioneer Trail is to improve and repair the system that filters out pollutants and other large particles before they find their way into Lake Tahoe.

Workers will install and improve sand traps near the creeks, and put in metal pipes. Water is diverted from the traps, via the pipes, into retention basins. Some of these basins are formed naturally – as in the Lake Christopher basin near Cold Creek – and some are man-made. Water percolates through these basins, leaving sediments and pollutants behind, before running into the lake. In addition, phosphorous and nitrogen – the two main food sources of algae – are scooped up and consumed by the plant material in the basins. Lake Tahoe’s water clarity has suffered in recent years, mainly due to algae growth.

Meanwhile, out on U.S. Highway 50 near Riverton, there is more serious trouble percolating.

Caltrans workers have identified several rather pronounced cracks in the pavement just west of the area of the infamous 1997 Mill Creek mudslide. They then discovered what they are calling a “slipout” – an area of ground underneath the roadway which seems to be slipping, or crumbling.

Movement of the hillside below the highway was detected last week, according to Caltrans Public Affairs Director Pat Miller.

“The slippage extends for about 100 feet between the highway and the American River, and along a 180-foot length of the roadway,” Miller said. “Our geotechnical engineers have examined the site, and have laid out a project to build a retaining wall of steel beams and wood timbers to stabilize the area. This will also include placing rocks along the bottom of the slope.”

On Monday, a temporary concrete barrier railing was moved from the shoulder area of the road to the edge of the eastbound lane.

“This will provide a work area for the contractor, while allowing traffic to pass through the area without delays most of the time,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Irene Itamura. “Motorists should be cautioned, however, that there will be times when the contractor will have to stop traffic and alternate motorists through the work area.”

Intermittent delays of 15 to 30 minutes should be expected, but lengthy delays are not anticipated, according to Caltrans.

Repair is expected to take two months, with completion expected by the end of April. Estimated cost: somewhere between $2 million and $3 million.

The area in question is 22 miles east of Placerville

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