Highway 50 over Echo Summit Open to Traffic Ahead of Schedule


US Highway 50

District:  District 3 - Marysville
Contact:  Steve Nelson
Phone:  (530) 701-9459


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   

EL DORADO COUNTY – U.S. Highway 50 is back open to traffic over Echo Summit five days ahead of schedule, Caltrans announced this morning.

A full closure of Highway 50 over the summit was implemented Friday, 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.

One-way intermittent daytime traffic control will continue over the next few weeks to finish the project, beginning Monday.

Caltrans used an Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) 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.

Caltrans and its contractor, Q&D Construction, also took on the difficult challenge of safely removing 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 S. Benipal. “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.    

Work could not take place on the project during 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 project is replacing the existing bridge, which was built 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. This legislative package invests $54 billion over the next decade to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and puts more dollars toward transit and safety.

Caltrans appreciates the support and encouragement from elected officials for the department to undertake this innovative approach to expedite reopening of the highway. District 3 would like to thank Caltrans District 10, the California Highway Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, El Dorado County, the City of South Lake Tahoe, City of Placerville, Chambers of Commerce, Lake Valley Fire Protection District and CAL-FIRE for their support. Caltrans also extends its thanks to the local businesses, residents and visitors to South Lake Tahoe impacted by the closure of Highway 50 for their patience.

For more information on the project, visit Way2Tahoe on Twitter @way2Tahoe or on Facebook/Way2Tahoe.

Caltrans reminds motorists to Be Work Zone Alert and slow in construction zones for the safety of travelers and crews performing these improvements. Weather or unexpected events may delay or prolong the work. The department will issue construction updates on Twitter @CaltransDist3 and on Facebook at CaltransDistrict3. For real-time traffic, click on Caltrans’ QuickMap or download the QuickMap app from the App Store or Google Play.