Sierra Sun top 10 stories of 2009: No. 10 – I-80 construction, snow scare | SierraSun.com

Sierra Sun top 10 stories of 2009: No. 10 – I-80 construction, snow scare

the staff of the Sierra Sun

Sun File PhotoTrucks lined up on east-bound I-80 nearly all summer long during the roadwork that wrapped up in October and caused many a traffic woe for locals and visitors.

TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. – We would prefer to look at 2009 with one eye closed. For a brief time, the region saw the economy dip down to levels not seen since the late 80s, and optimism dip even further. During that volatility, the stress on us as a region was evident. We fought and filed lawsuits, we packed our bags and left, and much of our community was pointing fingers about the future of the school district.

Frankly, it wasn’t much fun, which is why we’d prefer just to move on and forget most of it. Yet, that would be too easy. Between the bad news headlines and tragedies did lay a bit of silver lining. Those in the region who survived 2009 – however you define that – will walk into 2010 with a resolve and a confidence unparalleled in most of our lifetimes.

The evidence is clear. Development on the horizon is beginning to employ more workers. Early snowfall propelled the region to the top of the resort world for the 2009 Christmas holiday week, and the school district is beginning to refocus itself away from the politics and back to the classroom. But we don’t have to remind our readers how far we still have to go, and the volume of challenges we have to overcome to protect our region and our quality of life.

So, to 2009 and all its bittersweet memories, we bid you adieu and thank you for the whipping. And when you finally go, please don’t let the door hit you on the way out, and definitely don’t look back.

We like to call it being “overstimulated,” as stimulus funds given to Caltrans allowed them to become an omnipresent force in the region, whether it was delays on one of the lake’s state highways or the massive projects on Interstate 80.

Millions of dollars were poured into area roads to fix lingering issues like tricky drainage or deepening grooves worn into the road over the last five decades.

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And what was good for the economy in construction jobs and good for the roads in renovations was frustrating for the drivers, a fact of life in a place with two seasons – winter and construction. Even school buses were delayed this summer, which prompted a bit of public pressure and resulted in promises that Caltrans would work with locals better next summer.

Yet, things are not always in our control. A budget scare threatened snow removal operations – which would have jeopardized skiers and tourist dollars needed in the region.

Fortunately more than a little public scrutiny corrected that.