Letter: Frustrated with traffic in neighborhoods


Publisher’s note: Moya Sanders, who lives in the unincorporated  area of El Dorado County in the basin, asked for the following exchange to be published.

To Whom It May Concern,

I live on North Upper Truckee Road leading from South Lake Tahoe to Highway 50 going south toward Placerville. The chain control on Highway 50 at the south end of Meyers is being bypassed by the cars going this way. The traffic enters Highway 50 above the chain control area going up Echo Summit when it exits North Upper Truckee Road at the south end. This is a problem on North Upper Truckee Road because none of the side streets is plowed, so traffic stops in the middle of the road to chain up, causing accidents and backing up traffic.

Also there must be some liability to Caltrans or the city, if a car crashes on Echo Summit or can’t move up the hill because they have no chains on even when they are required. There are no signs at the South Lake Tahoe city end of this road by the Y or by the only turn to put you back on Highway 50 at Sawmill Road. Not even a sign stating that there is no chain up areas on this road, or that the road is very windy and steep and dangerous covered in snow.


Thank you for your email. I have cc’d our county roads department. This is a serious problem that has no easy answer. The biggest problems are the new apps on cell phones and cars that tell drivers about our backroad access areas. In response to the issue, I convened a meeting last winter of all agencies including CHP, county roads department and sheriff, city of SLTPD, Lake Valley FD, the Tahoe Chamber and LTVA. We looked at several possible solutions, but could not come up with a completely adequate answer to this problem.

CHP stated that they would step up patrols for chain control — they are the only agency allowed to put up controls on any roads — when they had available manpower. Since the roads are public, our sheriff can not close roads to only locals or create roadblocks.

LTVA and the chamber have tried to help by asking lodging properties to stagger check-out times and promote extra nights during busy holiday travel.

The app manufacturers have been asked to change/delete/add warnings in their apps to alert drivers, but no one has received a response from this group to my knowledge.

I have asked and continue to seek any and all suggestions and would be happy to pass on anything that might help. We will continue to work on this problem.

Thank you again for your email,
Sue Novasel, EDC supervisor District V


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Comments (7)
  1. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: January 3, 2017

    This is what happens to a small community with limited access roads into/out of town when the main economic driver which is promoted is tourism along with that same old “more heads in the beds” prioritizing.

    When the next recession hits [and it will], this main economic industry will again collapse because fewer people will have discretionary money to spend on leisure activities and visiting Tahoe; economically this area will again tank; people will again wring their hands about reduced visitations and declining revenues causing financial suffering for local businesses, local government, and local individuals; and once again the LTVA will come forward to commiserate with how bad everything is and to provide a report on what they’re doing to try to persuade visitors to come here, even though many people just don’t have money to spend on travel.

    Tourism should be one component of an economic plan and not the driving force, as economically that’s too volatile. The South Shore’s economic and employment opportunities need to be expanded beyond tourism to help lessen the impacts of future recessions, to create more and better paying local jobs, and so tourism doesn’t need to be promoted so greatly. I support the Tahoe Prosperity Center’s “Connected Tahoe Project” which seeks to create superior digital infrastructure in the Tahoe Basin toward making alternative business development possible locally along with improving educational opportunities.

    If decision-makers continue doing the same old things we should never expect a different result; our long-established cycle will just go on and on.

  2. Lisa says - Posted: January 3, 2017

    The answer is pretty simple for a quick fix. When chain control is effect at the end of weekends or when there is abundant holiday traffic, there needs to be a person posted at the corner of North Upper Truckee and 50 to turn all those without chains back. Best would be to make them go back the chain area outside of Meyers and get back in line. Word would get out quickly.

  3. Diana Hamilton says - Posted: January 3, 2017

    (continuing with 4-mer’s train of thought, perhaps, on diversifying)
    The Co. Library had been working to bring improved bandwidth into our area which should inhance telecommuting options..

  4. don't give up says - Posted: January 3, 2017

    In Los Angeles they restricted hours on certain roads where a certain city councilman lived. I think it was Mt. Olympus Road or Drive between the valley and the city over the Santa Monica Mountains.

  5. moya says - Posted: January 4, 2017

    Hi everyone these are 2 more responses i got back from my letter:

    from Caltrans:
    Dear Citizen, Thank you for your email. Caltrans appreciates your concern for the California freeway system. Enforcement jurisdiction belongs to the California Highway Patrol or the law enforcement in your area. Should you have any safety concerns while cars are bypassing chain controls, please dial 911 to notify law enforcement. If you have any other concerns, please submit another maintenance service request. California Department of Transportation.

    John Kahling
    Deputy Director, Engineering

    Ms. Sanders –

    Supervisor Novasel forwarded me your email regarding traffic on North Upper Truckee.

    Many state and local agencies are aware of this issue, and there is no easy answer. North Upper Truckee is a public road that may be used by any motorist at any time. Closing the road to everyone but locals could be legally problematic. Such closures would require checkpoints staffed 24/7 by law enforcement, and neither CHP nor the County Sheriff have the resources to do this.

    I know that Supervisor Novasel met with many state and local agencies regarding this issue last winter and discussed several possible ideas that might minimize these problems during peak traffic periods. However, as you know, it’s very difficult to change driving behavior. We will consider additional signage as per your suggestions.
    Thank you for your email, and please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions or comments.


    John Kahling
    Deputy Director, Engineering

    County of El Dorado
    Community Development Agency
    Transportation Division
    2441 Headington Road
    Placerville, CA 95667
    office: 530-642-4974
    cell: 530-957-3711

  6. lou pierini says - Posted: January 4, 2017

    Metering lights work at the Bay Bridge and off ramps, put one at the Y on Lake Tahoe Blvd. Its legal.

  7. lou pierini says - Posted: January 4, 2017

    Metering lights at the Y, like on the Bay Bridge, its legal.