Supervisors may authorize right turn restrictions in South Tahoe

Staff Report

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The right turn restriction program in South Lake Tahoe may again be authorized this week by El Dorado County Supervisors.

The program is up for discussion during the Board of Supervisors regular meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The El Dorado County Department of Transportation is recommending to the board that it sign a resolution sanctioning temporary right turn restrictions from Sawmill Road and North Upper Truckee Road onto U.S. Highway 50 from May through October.

The turn restriction program was used for the first time last year in an attempt to stop tourists from using routes through residential neighborhoods provided by navigation applications to bypass traffic leaving the basin.

The purpose of the turn restriction program is to evaluate whether or not tourist traffic can be safely routed back onto U.S. Highway 50 during peak weekend and holiday traffic periods, whether or not emergency vehicle response time is improved and if there are any other unforeseen issues or traffic safety issues that would be made worse by the proposed turn restrictions.

However, the pilot program was interrupted due to the Caldor Fire and U.S. 50 being closed from Aug. 20, through Sept. 21, preventing data from being collected.

In Sept. 2019, a 3-hour turning movement count on N. Upper Truckee Road, 266 vehicles entered the intersection during peak time between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. with 162 making a right turn onto U.S. 50.

There were 23 to 30 vehicles in queues, creating traffic for approximately 650 feet in length on N. Upper Truckee Road and with the existing curves on the roadway, there were two near-miss rear-end type accidents due to unsafe speeds and minimal stopping sight-distances around the curves, said the agenda packet.

Similarly, during the same peak period on Sawmill Road, 46 vehicles entered the intersection and 43 made right turns onto westbound U.S. 50. There were between five to seven vehicles backed up approximately one hundred 100 feet on Sawmill Road.

Several motorists received citations last year while the pilot program was in place, including local residents.

The department of transportation said based on the study at both locations that navigation apps are increasingly diverting U.S. Highway 50 weekend and holiday tourist traffic to local County roadways resulting in a number of negative consequences.

The DOT believes the turn restrictions could increase operational efficiencies and potentially reduce congestion on county roadways.

DOT worked with California Highway Patrol and Caltrans to implement the restrictions and plan on that collaboration moving forward.

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