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Construction of Echo Summit bridge will close portion of Hwy. 50 for two weeks in mid-October

Detours from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe will impact homeowners, business owners and tourists.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported that Hwy. 50 from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe is closing for construction. The closure is for a shorter section. Commuters from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe will need to use a detour. This article has been corrected. We're sorry for the error and confusion.)

Ben Butler has served up Italian cuisine on Main Street in Placerville for six years. His specialty? Pasta and oven-fired pizza.

"For our Neapolitan pizza, very authentic," said Butler who owns Bene Ristorante Italiano.

But, Bulter said he's prepared for his restaurant to lose out on some business when Highway 50 shuts down for a two-week stretch in October.

"I could see losing 10 to 20 percent on the weekends," Butler said.

From Oct. 18 - 31, Caltrans will close a portion of Highway 50 about a mile stretch of highway on each end of Johnson Pass Road — for a bridge replacement project over Echo Summit. Commuters from San Francisco, Reno, and Sacramento will be impacted. To get around the road closure, Caltrans has the following detours in place:

  • From Sacramento — Caltrans suggests Hwy. 16 east, to Hwy. 49 south, to Hwy. 88 east, to Hwy. 89 north back to Hwy. 50 in Meyers. An alternative route is to continue on Hwy. 50 east through Sacramento to Hwy. 49 south in Placerville. 
  • From Reno — Caltrans suggests NV-88 south to CA-88 west then onto CA-49 N to Hwy. 50 into Placerville. Or take CA-49 north to CA-16 west to Hwy. 50 west towards El Dorado Hills/Folsom.
  • From San Francisco — Caltrans suggests Route 88 east in Stockton to Route 88 south, then on to Hwy. 89 north into South Lake Tahoe. 

The current bridge was built in 1939.

"It's just time to replace it. It's been on the radar for a while," said Caltrans District 3 Public Information Officer, Steve Nelson. "The girders are close to 100 feet long. And then the equipment to install the girders, crane operation, trucks, and the tightness that they have to begin with to work up there is not feasible to allow traffic."


For business owners in tourist towns along Hwy. 50 like Placerville, the lack of tourist traffic is sure to put a dent in their profits. Some business owners say the hordes of tourists that head to nearby Apple Hill to indulge in apples, cider, apple pie, and all things fall-related will be forced away from the historic Gold Rush city for the two-week closure.

"I think it's going to be devastating," Chris Reis, who owns Window Box Antiques on Main Street, said. "October starts our season. People are shopping for Christmas."

At an informational meeting held Wednesday night at the Placerville Town Hall, there was no opposition to the construction. All understood the inconvenience and had questions that were answered by Caltrans representatives.

"The offset is it will be safe for people to go up and down the hill," Butler said. 

Caltrans District 3 will issue passes for local traffic only for use of Johnson Pass Road. Proof of residency or proof of employment is required to show the need to go over the summit.

You can email Steve Nelson at steve.nelson@dot.ca.gov to request a pass.

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Caltrans considers complete closure of Hwy. 50 over Echo Summit this September