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Bypass construction back on the road

JOHN A. BAYLESS, Sierra Sun

Caltrans recently cleared the last regulatory hurdle impeding Highway 267 Bypass construction, and work could begin as early as September, according to Town of Truckee officials.

Bypass construction did not begin this summer due to lack of a quorum at Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. When Gov. Gray Davis took office, he pulled former Gov. Pete Wilson’s appointees off the board – resulting in lack of a quorum on the Lahontan board, which had yet to issue the wastewater discharge permits for the bypass.

“The State Water Resources Control Board, acting on behalf of Lahontan, recently issued the wastewater discharge permits,” Truckee Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said. “Bids are to be opened this week, and construction should start in September.”

Lashbrook said state funds for the bypass project are fully encumbered – meaning that they will not be taken away to be used on other projects. The budget for the bypass is $25 million.

“We’re not going to have an earthquake in Southern California and lose the bypass,” he said.

Lashbrook commended state Sen. Tim Leslie and his office, whom he said were instrumental in keeping the project on track.

Dave Butler, Leslie’s chief of staff, said the senator believes the bypass is a high-priority project.

“That’s a very important project for Sen. Leslie and we have done a lot of squawking at every opportunity, and have been very supportive of the town’s efforts,” Butler said.

“Sen. Leslie has been in communication with administration on a number of occasions to let them know how important the Lahontan appointments are and how important the Highway 267 Bypass is to the entire Tahoe Region,” Butler said. “In part as a result of those contacts, the administration chose to consider the 267 project at the state water board meeting July 15. The senator is very appreciative of the administration and the Lahontan staff for their work in preparing for that meeting.”

Caltrans public affairs officer Laura Featherstone said the project went to bid yesterday, and that Caltrans expects to break ground in September.

Meanwhile, work continues on a plan which could allow Truckee to retain an eastbound off ramp and westbound on ramp at the intersection of Highway 89 and Interstate 80.

“We are trying to get FHWA approval to place ramps at the existing interchange,” Featherstone said. “Right now we just recently completed the concept approval report and our district director Irene Itamura is reviewing it. Then it will be forwarded to the Truckee mayor for his signature and approval.”


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