Mixed feelings over impending Squaw Valley Loop Road closure
OLYMPIC VALLEY -An invisible road exists under Squaw Valley USA’s parking lot.
The road is Squaw Loop Road. It was built in 1960 as part of the Olympics and is now covered by a 25-acre parking lot.
It does little but connect skiers to the Squaw Loop Bridge – an easy exit at the end of a busy ski day.
Soon only horses and pedestrians will be traveling the bridge after the Placer County Board of Supervisors voted to abandon the road in two phases, in correlation with the Intrawest building project.
“I think people that are for abandoning it have never been here on a Saturday during ski season,” said John Wilcox during a Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting last Thursday.
Vehicles will still be able to enter and exit Squaw at the bridge by PlumpJack and over a newly built bridge that will lead into the center of the Village at Squaw. The new bridge may be built by next spring, said Wes Zicker, deputy director of public works.
The bridge has caused debates in the past because it is on the Poulsen Land Company’s property. This creates a liability issue because the majority of access over the bridge is benefiting Squaw.
However, Zicker said if the County did not abandon the road then it would have to bring the road up to county standards, meaning it would have to install curbs and gutters through the parking lot.
“When we are finished here, we are going to build a new bridge,” said Tom Jacobson vice president for the resort development group. “I guarantee the access in and out is going to be better.”
The bridge will be four lanes in width – three for traffic and one for pedestrians, said Zicker.
Squaw Valley Ski Corp. was also in favor of abandoning the road.
“We’re faced with the choice to abandon the entire road or no village,” said Mike Livak from the Squaw Valley Ski Corp.
The abandonment of the bridge won’t occur until sometime next spring, when Intrawest completes its bridge leading into the Village.
The first phase of the Intrawest project will begin this spring, requiring the lower half of the Squaw Loop Road to be abandoned and exchanged with another easement that will go through the Village.
The board approved the first-phase abandonment and only approved the second- phase abandonment in concept, leaving questions on what exactly is going to happen to the Squaw Loop Bridge.
The advisory council recommended access be maintained for emergency vehicles, equestrians and pedestrians. The Poulsen’s seemed to agree with this.
“We would like to have the easement brought down to 12 feet,” said Lance Poulsen.
The board of supervisors will hear the issue again with all of the specific details about the abandonment of the bridge before Intrawest starts the second phase of building.
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The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has begun its annual process of closing recreational facilities around Lake Tahoe for the winter season.