Budget may affect mountain snowplowing | SierraSun.com

Budget may affect mountain snowplowing

Roads around Truckee could be plowed a bit slower this winter.

According to Mark Dinger, a spokesman for Caltrans district 3, California has not allocated enough funds to hire the normal number of seasonal employees for snow removal. Crippled by California’s budget woes, the agency has put in a “hiring freeze exemption request” to the state Department of Finance, he said, and a response should come by the end of the week.

“It’s a big maybe right now,” Dinger said. “We’re just asking for what we had in previous years.”

Normally, California hires 305 workers for the entire state, and approximately 100 to deal with Interstate 80 and Highway 50. If Caltrans cannot hire the 100 people it needs, “secondary roadways” like state routes 267, 89 and 28, will become a lower priority for plowing. Truckee and Lake Tahoe could be hit hard.

While the secondary roadways will be plowed, they will not be plowed as often, and could cause trouble for motorists.

“Obviously, [I-80] is going to be the first priority,” Dinger added. “We’re not going to be able to plow as often as in the past for 89, 28, 267 and 49. We would have to pull people off 80.”

The Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association is getting in on the fight for workers, and is organizing a letter-writing campaign to the state government.

From Truckee, SR 267 and 89 are the major roads into the Tahoe Basin, and the TNT-TMA said slower plowing will have a major impact on visits to the Tahoe area. Even Northstar-at-Tahoe, which is located just east of Truckee on SR 267, might have a hard time with visitors this winter if roads aren’t plowed as often as in the past.

The TNT-TMA is discussing the issue at its regular board meeting tomorrow at Granlibakken resort, approximately one-half mile south of Tahoe City, off state Route 28. The meeting starts at 8 a.m.

“We’re very hopeful,” Dinger said of the decision to come from the Department of Finance. “We’re hoping to have a decision by the end of the week – we need to have a decision by the end of the week.” He added that Caltrans already has to get workers in place, like dispatchers.

For more information on Caltrans in the Truckee/Tahoe region, visit http://www.sierrasun.com or http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist3.

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