US 50 reopens at Lake Tahoe week after rock slides
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RENO, Nev. — A week after it was closed by rock slides with boulders as big as buses, U.S. Highway 50 on Lake Tahoe's east shore reopened in Nevada on Wednesday. A stretch of the highway further west in California was reopened for the first time since mudslides shut that key mountain route down last weekend.
Crews continued to clear debris from slides along U.S. Interstate 80 west of Truckee, California and westbound lanes were closed to truck travel Wednesday afternoon at the California-Nevada line west of Reno.
But to the south, the California Highway Patrol reopened a stretch of Highway 50 west of Lake Tahoe connecting Sacramento to the alpine lake and its ski resorts. Caltrans officials said the highway was open in both directions throughout the Sierra from Placerville to Tahoe's south shore and into Nevada.
Earlier Wednesday, crews opened one lane of Highway 50 in each direction on Tahoe's east shore after a series of landslides forced its closure at the Cave Rock tunnel near Glenbrook on Feb. 8.
Nevada Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meg Ragonese said crews have installed a pair of cement barriers fortified by gravel to help guard against any additional landslides. She said some of the boulders that cascaded onto the road last week were "literally the size of buses."
Ragonese said the only state highway that remained closed in Nevada on Wednesday as a result of last week's heavy snow and flooding was State Route 233 from the Utah line west to I-80 south of the rural Elko County town of Montello, where an earthen dam burst last week.
Flood waters washed out several sections of that highway, carving caverns as deep as 12 feet through the road, Ragonese said. She said there was no estimate when it would reopen.
In California, three major mudslides and a series of smaller ones buried parts of a 30-mile stretch of Highway 50 last weekend in the Kyburz area east of Pollock Pines. One of the slides was more than 400-feet long.
Caltrans engineer Bob Ericksen told Lake Tahoe News earlier this week it looked like "a giant sand dune in the mountains." He said crews working around the clock with five large excavators and 25 semi-trailer trucks hauled away about 14,000 cubic yards of debris in recent days.
While westbound I-80 remained off limits to trucks, auto traffic was allowed with a detour to California Highway 20 through Grass Valley. All eastbound lanes were open.