Work at the ‘Y’ gets under way | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Work at the ‘Y’ gets under way

Elaine Goodman

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune Lou Flores removes asphalt from the eastbound right-hand turn lane of Highway 50 at the "Y" on Friday.

An overhaul of the “Y” intersection at the west end of town is in full swing, and officials say they’re doing what they can to minimize traffic disruptions.

The project will add one “straight-through” lane for each of the four legs of the intersection of highways 50 and 89. When the work is finished, each direction of travel will have two left-turn lanes, two straight-through lanes and a right-turn lane.

Up until Friday, the project had been causing few traffic problems, said Jim Marino, assistant civil engineer with the city of South Lake Tahoe.

But traffic was backing up on eastbound Highway 50 on Friday afternoon as crews worked on the right-turn merge lane for that direction and visitors began arriving in town, Marino said.

A separate project, drilling of private monitoring wells in the area, was causing some traffic issues, but the work was moved to the nighttime to alleviate the problem, Marino said.

Temporary traffic signals equipped with cameras have been installed at the “Y” intersection. The signals can tell when traffic is backing up in a certain direction and adjust the timing accordingly.

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Work that requires the signals to be shut off will be performed at night to minimize traffic snarls.

In about a month, work should be finished on the eastbound and westbound legs of Highway 50, and traffic flow should improve, Marino said.

Officials have asked drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to be careful while traveling through the intersection, and police may be keeping a closer eye on the corner for unsafe driving.

Despite getting a late start, the “Y” project still is expected to finish up this fall, officials said. Work was anticipated to start in June, but the contractor was tied up on another project, and then officials didn’t want to begin work on the Fourth of July weekend, Marino said.

Under the revised schedule, work that involves disturbing the ground is scheduled for completion by Oct. 15. Signal work and other finishing touches will continue for a few weeks after that, with completion expected in November.

“We’re going to accelerate the construction a little bit,” said Keith Flaherty, resident engineer for Vali Cooper, the construction management firm for the project. Flaherty invites anyone with concerns about the construction to call him at (916) 826-3943.

Caltrans is paying two-thirds of the $2.5 million cost of the project, with the city paying the remaining third.

Although city officials have conceded that the project won’t alleviate the Sunday traffic bottlenecks that result when visitors head out of town on busy weekends, they say it will improve traffic flow during daytime and nonpeak travel periods. The project also includes new curbs, gutters and sidewalks, landscaping, better drainage, and Americans with Disabilities Act and other pedestrian-safety improvements.