Tahoe Roads: What’s going on with US 50 project in South Lake Tahoe? (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Roads: What’s going on with US 50 project in South Lake Tahoe? (opinion)

Steve Nelson
Tahoe Roads
Steve Nelson

Editor’s Note: The Tahoe Roads column is regular feature providing updates on Caltrans projects and other road-related news.

The typical construction season in the Lake Tahoe Basin lasts May 1 – Oct. 15. The Caltrans U.S. 50 project in El Dorado County was suspended for the winter. In the meantime, the construction staff reviewed upcoming season work and design plans, walked door -to door, notifying all businesses and properties within the work zone of the project and answered any questions.

The $57 million South Lake Tahoe project stretches from the “Y” intersection at California Route 89 to the Trout Creek Bridge and this year marks its third full season of construction work. The scope of work is to rebuild existing drainage systems, widen and repave the highway as well as reconstruct curbs, gutters and sidewalks along U.S. 50 and Lake Tahoe Boulevard.

This season, work will focus primarily on the stretch of road from Silver Dollar Avenue to Trout Creek Bridge and the “Y” intersection of U.S. 50 and California Route 89 will be repaved.

Drainage Improvements

Caltrans will replace all of the drainage systems through the 2-mile stretch of U.S. 50, so that storm water runoff can be absorbed naturally or filtered to remove pollutants before entering the Upper Truckee River and Lake Tahoe.

There are a variety of drainage methods that Caltrans is implementing for this project. For example, the pipes under the roadway tie into the city of South Lake Tahoe’s drainage system; last season, Caltrans constructed a large Delaware Sand Filter adjacent to River Drive, which has chambers that filter storm water before it’s released into the Upper Truckee River.

Keeping Motorists in The Know

Additional upgrades will make it safer for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to access the highway, as the stretch of highway is being widened to include 6-foot shoulders on either side for Class II bike lanes. Sidewalks will also be rebuilt to encourage more foot traffic to area businesses along U.S. 50.

During construction, the center two-way left turn lane will be used as a travel lane to ensure that at least one lane is open in each direction at all times. Typical restrictions apply to this project, such as keeping the contractor off the road early on Fridays and stopping work completely on weekends and during holiday periods.

Delays in the work zone can run as high as 30 minutes but typically are much shorter. Motorists should expect daytime work at the start of the project with day and night work occurring during summer months.

Protect the Environment

Caltrans is dedicated to keeping our highways and waterways clean and believes clean water starts with clean highways. Drivers have more power than they might realize in helping to protect the environment and can tackle seemingly small tasks that have a big impact.

Keeping vehicles clean and regularly maintained, securing loads, keeping truck beds clean, and properly disposing of trash are simple ways to help protect the Upper Truckee River and Lake Tahoe. For ideas on how to help, visit http://www.protecteverydrop.com.

Caltrans also encourages alternate modes of transportation as fewer vehicles on the highway eases the burden on the environment. With the completion of this highway project, new bike lanes and sidewalks will make biking and walking around town easier and safer than ever.

What We’ve Been Up To

Since construction was suspended, the Caltrans South Lake Tahoe maintenance yard has been extremely busy. This winter our staff has worked 12-hour shifts during storms for around-the-clock coverage, day and night.

As of April 1, Echo Summit had received 445 inches of snow, making it one of the biggest snow seasons in recent memory.

When temperatures warm up this spring, crews will be able to fill potholes that have developed with the precipitation. They’ll also replace damaged signs and snow poles, clean out culverts, drainage ditches and inlets, and replace the highway striping that always fades away during the winter. There is a LOT of work to do once the weather allows!

Before You Go, Check QuickMap

Caltrans encourages motorists to always check conditions before traveling, even if it’s just around town. Caltrans’ QuickMap will show construction work zones, maintenance and construction activities in the area and will list any lane closures required to do the work. QuickMap is updated in real time, 24-seven by Caltrans dispatchers and is also supplied information by California Highway Patrol dispatchers.

The desktop version is available at http://www.quickmap.dot.ca.gov and a free mobile download is available through the App Store and the Google Play store. Remember, only view QuickMap as a passenger or before driving — never while driving. Motorists should be “Work Zone Alert” around highway construction zones and remember to move over when it’s safe to do so if you see flashing lights.

Steve Nelson is public information officer for Caltrans District 3, which includes the Lake Tahoe Basin. For more detailed information on Caltrans projects and to view a real-time traffic flow map, please visit TahoeRoads.com. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, @TahoeRoads, to engage with us and see interesting posts about California’s urban, mountain, prairie and lake basin terrain.