Emergency Work on U.S. Highway 50, State Route 89 for Fire Damage


US Highway 50

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



EL DORADO COUNTY – Two emergency contracts are in place to repair sections of U.S. Highway 50 and State Highway 89 that were damaged during the devastating Caldor Fire that has burned nearly 222,000 acres of the Eldorado National Forest.

Work along the highways will include hazardous tree and debris removal; rockfall protection; cleaning culverts, catch basins and drainage ditches; guardrail replacement; pavement repairs, and erosion control.

Motorists should expect daytime traffic controls on Highway 50 at multiple locations from White Hall to Meyers and on a two-mile stretch of Highway 89 in Christmas Valley (see map). The estimated cost of the repair work is $51.6 million. The speed limit in the construction areas has been reduced to 45 mph.

“Caltrans is committed to ensuring these highways are safe for the traveling public, thousands of which use Highway 50 and Highway 89 to go to and from the South Lake Tahoe area every year,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal. “We understand the inconvenience of construction delays, and we appreciate motorists’ patience as we perform these critical repairs.”

Doug Veerkamp General Engineering Inc. and Granite Construction will be performing the repair work.

Director Benipal expressed his appreciation for the all the agencies that responded to the fire, which started August 14 and caused a full closure of Highway 50 for 30 days. The U.S. Forest Service and CAL-FIRE have been the lead agencies, but firefighters from around the state and beyond responded to assist. The fire is now at 98 percent containment.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office led the law enforcement side of the operation, with assistance from the California Highway Patrol, U.S. National Guard and multiple other partner agencies. In all, more than 4,400 personnel were deployed during the peak of the wildfire. 

“These men and women worked tirelessly under very challenging conditions,” Benipal said. “We’re certainly grateful for their efforts. Because of their hard work, our work can now begin to repair the highway infrastructure.”

Caltrans’ maintenance yards in Kyburz and Meyers had to be evacuated, but the crews continued to patrol the highways in a support role, manned the highway closures along with the Placerville yard and staffed the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Harrah’s Casino in Nevada. The casino was closed to the public but agreed to remain open for emergency responders. Much of the food for responders was donated by South Lake Tahoe restaurants that were shut down during the evacuation of the city.

Benipal also recognized the quick response of Caltrans’ Damage Assessment Team, which was tasked with identifying the needed repairs to the highway infrastructure. Work on the repairs is expected to take several months and may be delayed due to weather.

Caltrans District 3 is responsible for maintaining and operating 4,385 lane miles in 11 Sacramento Valley and Northern Sierra counties. For project updates, follow Caltrans District 3 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.