South Shore begins to dig out
Even in an area like Lake Tahoe where snow storms are common, Tuesday’s blizzard slowed down the region, and its affects were still felt Wednesday.
Most mountain roads were closed or had controls much of Tuesday. Ski resorts couldn’t remain fully open. Consumer transit was swamped and slow for most of the day.
Area Transit Management buses didn’t run on schedule, but they were operational most of Tuesday. Ken Daly, ATM general manager, said the buses had to restrict service to some neighborhoods, such as Gardner Mountain, due to the voluminous snowfall.
Daly said service to some neighborhoods was restricted because some streets were still too narrow for buses, but he expected all to be normal by today.
A.J. Robinson, Sunshine Taxi manager, said traffic just doesn’t move as fast when visibility is greatly reduced and there is a healthy coat of snow on the ground.
Sunshine Taxi, along with Paradise Taxi, both use snow tires and chains in storms, so their taxis can only go about 25 mph.
Russell Rummult, manager of Paradise Taxi, said the slow driving conditions and increased calls from people who don’t want to drive in the wintry mess add to delays in reaching customers. He said the delays often upset customers who are used to speedy pick ups.
“When they call and hear the wait’s a half hour to 45 minutes, you get an earful,” Rummult said.
The taxi delays can actually add to taxi delays, according to Rummult. He said when a customer calls his company and hears it will be close to an hour before Paradise can get a cab there, the customer will call a few other cab companies and ask them to send cabs also.
Rummult said that three or four cabs will often show up at one place when they could all be at different places picking up other customers.
“The consumer needs to realize we’re only human,” Robinson said. He suggested that in rough conditions like Tuesday, customers walk to a central point that taxis can access more easily than a snow-filled residential street.
Slow transit led to a less than busy day at Barton Memorial Hospital.
“Due to the amount of snow, people weren’t able to get in and we were actually slow,” said Marla Sharp, public relations coordinator at Barton. Sharp said the only two injuries that Barton saw related to the storm were a couple of hand injuries from getting them caught in snowblowers.
Heavenly Ski Resort’s buses continued to operate much of Tuesday, although they were slightly delayed, according to Monica Bandows, director of public relations.
The resort stopped selling lift tickets early Tuesday afternoon and closed about an hour later.
“We just got so much snow we couldn’t keep up with our snow safety operations (avalanche controls),” Bandows said.
Portions of the upper mountain remained closed Wednesday morning but Bandows was excited about the possibilities as roads to Kirkwood and Sierra-at-Tahoe had road controls. Heavenly is located above South Lake Tahoe and Stateline.
At Sierra-at-Tahoe, Public Relations Manager Nancy Harrison said the resort was only slightly affected by the storm.
“Our mountain crew pays attention to the weather and we have a 24-hour staff when things like this happen,” Harrison said. Sierra had to close some ski runs due to limited visibility.
Area Transit Management runs Sierra’s buses and, Harrison said, there was no problem getting people to the mountain.
“They were a little slowed down but basically on time,” she said.
Sierra-at-Tahoe received 107 inches of snow since Sunday, according to Harrison – that’s shovel scoop less than 10 feet.
Both California and Nevada schools at South Shore remained closed through Wednesday. Lake Tahoe Community College, which closed Tuesday afternoon, was open for classes Wednesday.
Although the California Department of Transportation has been trying to save money this year by allowing snow plowed to the U.S. Highway 50 center lane to melt rather than hauling it away, the median pile will be removed.
Pat Miller, Caltrans Sierra District spokesperson, said the first hauling began Thursday morning at midnight. She said it would take two or three shifts to remove the snow and it should be completed Friday morning, just in time for the holiday weekend influx.
Road controls remained on some highways through Wednesday but, with little chance of snow over the next few days, road officials expected them to be lifted.
Jan Busatto, associate management analyst for the city, said every city snowplow was out clearing streets Wednesday.
She said the first goal was to open the primary roadways then to work on the side streets.
Today the rotaries will be called out to clear the snow to the curbs. Busatto said it will take about two weeks to clear the streets after a storm like Tuesday’s, assuming there is no more snow and no equipment failure.
All involved in the city’s snow plowing are working 12-hour shifts, including a public services officer who is ticketing vehicles parked on the streets of South Lake Tahoe.
Also, Busatto said there have been problems with private snow removal trucks dumping snow into city streets. This can create hazards for motorists and city snow plows and is against city ordinance.
Busatto said violators can be fined up to $500 and spend time in the county jail.
“We don’t want to go there,” Busatto said.
Also, private snow removers must have city licenses to perform such operations legally.
The National Weather Service is predicting dry conditions on South Shore through Sunday.
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