US Highway 50 over Echo Summit reopens ahead of schedule |

US Highway 50 over Echo Summit reopens ahead of schedule

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — In the early hours of Sunday morning, Caltrans reopened U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit five days ahead of schedule.

Caltans officials say that starting on Monday one-way intermittent daytime traffic control will continue over the next few weeks to finish the project. The construction was scheduled to last through Oct. 2 but the road was reopened at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning.

A full closure of U.S. 50 began on Sept. 18 to install seven precast, prestressed 96-foot bridge girders and associated work that included pouring ultra high-performance concrete to connect the girders, building concrete barrier walls and approach slabs, applying a polyester overlay on the bridge, and asphalt paving approaching both sides of the new structure. 

Local residents and commuters were issued special passes to use Johnson Rd., during the closure.

Caltrans said it used an accelerated bridge construction approach to minimize impacts to traffic by closing the highway for nine days and using the precast, prestressed girders and ultra high-performance concrete to bind the girders together. The ultra high-performance concrete is the first on a Caltrans project at this high elevation (7,382 feet). 

Caltrans and its contractor, Q&D Construction, removed large concrete portions of the old bridge, including utilizing specialized equipment (spider excavators) positioned over a precariously steep grade on the side of the mountain.  

“Caltrans is committed to innovative ways to improve efficiency and minimize impacts to the traveling public during construction,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet Benipal in a press release. “I would like to thank the Caltrans team and Q&D Construction for their outstanding work on this important safety project.”  

By utilizing ABC elements with a full closure of the highway, the project was accelerated by about three months and completed in two seasons rather than extending into 2021, according to Caltrans North Region Construction Chief Andrew Alvarado.     

The highway closure was pushed back to avoid the peak Tahoe summer season, June 15 to Labor Day weekend, due to traffic volumes. It resumed after Labor Day. The project started in May 2019 to build the abutments under the bridge and related work.  

This $14.1 million project has replaced the existing bridge, which was completed in 1939, with one that meets current seismic and safety standards. It includes $5.2 million in funding from Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

For more information on the project, visit

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