Roundabout construction cranking into high gear |

Roundabout construction cranking into high gear

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunSteve Viola of Gerco Construction digs a hole on the east side of Highway 89 south Monday.

As summer winds down, the construction on Truckee’s dual roundabouts will crank up.

After Labor Day, Highway 89 traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction and left-turn lanes onto and off of Interstate 80 will be closed during intervals to allow heavy construction of the roundabouts at Interstate 80 and Highway 89 south, according to contractor Burdick Excavating.

Left-turn traffic will have to follow detour signs that will lead them to the interstate.

“The traffic is reduced after the vacation season, and we’ve tried to schedule it accordingly,” said Bob Burton, resident engineer with the Town of Truckee.

Construction has gone well so far, and the roundabouts could be completed and operational by the end of October, said Burton.

“Everything is kind of going the way it was expected,” he said.

The $3.5 million roundabout project was approved in December 2004, after the town convinced state transportation gurus that high-capacity roundabouts could handle traffic flowing on and off I-80.

But it was a hard sell, said Tom Brannon, manager of Caltrans projects in Nevada and Sierra counties.

Caltrans first proposed to build a stoplight on the Interstate 80 off-ramps, a solution that the town feared could back traffic up onto the Interstate with heavy winter tourist traffic.

Once the project is complete, Truckee will have the first multi-lane roundabouts in Northern California, said Brannon. The two lanes are needed to accommodate the traffic that will pass through the configuration.

The center portions of the roundabouts will be built after Labor Day, as the peak summer traffic drops off after the holiday weekend. Earlier in the summer, construction crews had been working on the sidewalks and shaving back slopes to accommodate the circular intersection.

The construction schedule assures that the construction delays will have the least impact on North Tahoe tourism as possible, said Steve Teshara, executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. Highway 89 is a vital link for visitors headed to Tahoe City, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

“Since it is being done at the end of the peak summer season and before winter, we are hoping that the impacts will be minimal,” Teshara said.

He said he is pleased that the Town of Truckee took the initiative to build roundabouts at the intersection rather than a stoplight.

“We believe the roundabouts were the right approach to take,” Teshara said.

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