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May 3, 2021 3:00 PM, EDT

Nevada DOT Construction Project Involves Large-Truck Restrictions

Lake TahoeLake Tahoe's northeast shore looking north toward Incline Village. (Scott Sonner/AP)

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The Nevada Department of Transportation recently announced commercial truck restrictions on a Lake Tahoe-area highway as the agency undertakes a construction project.

Truck restrictions and roadway shoulder closures were scheduled to begin on state Route 431, also known as Mount Rose Highway, on May 3. SR 431 runs from Interstate 580 outside Reno to Incline Village, which is situated on the northern side of Lake Tahoe near the state’s border with California.

According to NDOT, commercial truck through traffic equipped with air brakes will be prohibited from traveling westbound via SR 431 farther than the Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe resort. These restrictions are in place through the fall. Trucks traveling eastbound from Incline Village to Reno will be permitted.

The closure is a safety precaution that was put in place to avoid the issue of trucks traveling down the mountain and potentially experiencing brake trouble in the work zone. Air brakes are typically used for large-truck configurations, which can sometimes experience brake failure in mountain corridors.

“Heavier weights run the risk of brakes overheating and the runaway truck ramps won’t be accessible during this highway construction project,” Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Hannah DeGoey told Transport Topics. “A pickup truck with hydraulic brakes, for example, needing to utilize the use of a runaway truck ramp is unlikely.”

As an alternate corridor, NDOT spokeswoman Meg Ragonese said routes such as U.S. 50, which winds around the southeastern side of Lake Tahoe, are primarily used for truck traffic entering the Lake Tahoe Basin in Nevada. A major east-west route, U.S. 50 stretches from Sacramento, Calif., to the Maryland coast.

The truck restrictions are in place because of NDOT’s two-year project to repave and enhance state Routes 431 and 28, which wraps around the northern shore of Lake Tahoe.

On SR 431, three inches of asphalt will be removed and replaced. The aging roadside concrete barrier rail will be upgraded on multiple segments of the corridor, and certain roadway shoulders will be reconstructed and flattened.

Improvements to SR 28 will also include replacing asphalt and improving sections of guardrail. Draining improvements will be made to ensure additional stormwater treatment before reaching Lake Tahoe. Near Memorial Point Scenic Overlook, an aging timber retaining wall will be reinforced with a soil nail wall. The process of soil nailing uses steel elements, or nails, to stabilize slopes.

NDOT advised that, over the next two years, drivers should anticipate shoulder closures and single lane restrictions on these routes as the agency works on about 15 miles of roadway. The construction work is meant to restore the mountainous highway surfaces, which can deteriorate under freeze-thaw conditions. According to NDOT, these highways were last fully reconstructed about 14 years ago.

“State Routes 28 and 431 are the primary highway connections to northern Lake Tahoe,” Ragonese told TT. “The road improvements will enhance these vital Tahoe highways for the 10,000 drivers who travel the roadways each day. The highway improvements will also enhance roadside drainage and infrastructure to further preserve water quality of Lake Tahoe.”

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