A huge boulder sitting in the middle of U.S. Highway 50 in Echo Summit in El Dorado County shut down both directions of the highway Thursday and Friday and snowstorms expected this weekend are likely to cause delays even greater travel in the Sierra, according to the California Department of Transportation.
Caltrans said crews worked through Thursday night preparing for blasting operations to help remove the rock by drilling holes in it. Caltrans said once crews deemed road conditions safe for motorists, it would reopen the freeway.
On Friday, Caltrans said that because of the landslide that occurred at Echo Summit, California Highway Patrol officers were diverting eastbound motorists at Sly Park Road and Sierra-at-Tahoe, and diverting travelers westbound to State Route 89 Junction and Meyers. Caltrans advised motorists to use Interstate 80 as an alternate route.
Additionally, Caltrans said due to an expected snowstorm this weekend, motorists should avoid using secondary roads in the Sierra.
Snow showers in the Sierra Nevada were expected Friday evening through this morning, according to the National Weather Service, which issued a winter weather advisory in effect from 5 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. today in the central Sierra.
About 2 to 5 inches of snow was expected over much of the greater Tahoe area, while 5 to 10 inches could fall above 7,000 feet west of Highway 89, the advisory said.
Caltrans said those unwilling to use Interstate 80 as an alternate route could use the Gold Country Scenic Roads in El Dorado and Amador counties. The agency, however, warned that these routes could be closed due to snow.
Other alternate routes include the following:
– From Sacramento, Nevada: From US-50, take the Power Inn Road exit to SR-16 east, to SR-49 south, to SR-88 east then to SR-89 north .
– From Placerville, Nevada: From US-50, take SR-49 south to SR-88 east then SR-89 north to South Lake Tahoe.
– From East Bay in Nevada: Take SR-88 east to Stockton to SR-88 south then SR-89 north to South Lake Tahoe.
– From Reno/Carson City to the Sacramento area: Take Nevada SR-88 south to California SR-88 west then SR-88 to US-50 to Placerville. Or take SR-49 North to SR-16 West to US-50 West to El Dorado Hills/Folsom.
– From South Lake Tahoe to the Sacramento area: take SR-89 to SR-88 west then SR-49 north to US-50 to Placerville or SR-49 north to to SR-16 west then US-50 west to El Dorado Hills/Folsom.
Caltrans also said motorists traveling through the Stockton area can exit SR-99 to SR-88 east, continuing on SR-88/49. At Jackson, turn left to continue on SR-88 East. On SR-89, turn left (north) and follow it to US-50 in South Lake Tahoe.
For current road conditions and channel requirements, visit quickmap.dot.ca.gov. Motorists can also call the California Highway Information Network’s automated telephone service at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).