Highway 50 over Echo Summit open to traffic ahead of schedule
FROM A RELEASE:
EL DORADO COUNTY – U.S. Highway 50 is back open to traffic over Echo Summit five days ahead of schedule, Caltrans announced Sunday.
A full closure of Highway 50 over the summit was implemented Friday, Sept. 18 to install seven precast, prestressed 96-footbridge 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. The highway reopened at 12:01 a.m. today.
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 $14.1 million project has replaced the existing bridge, which was completed 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.
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