Rock slide closes Highway 50 near South Lake Tahoe

Drivers heading to the Sierra this weekend should prepare for major travel delays after a rock slide forced the closure of U.S. Highway 50 in El Dorado County.

The California Department of Transportation said a “massive boulder” is in the middle of the highway at Echo Summit. The boulder tumbled into the road during a rock slide around 6 p.m. Thursday.

The highway remained closed Friday morning in both directions — westbound at the State Route 89 Junction and eastbound at Sly Park Road — with no estimated time of reopening, officials said. Drivers are advised to use Interstate 80 as an alternate route.

Crews were performing a “blasting operation” to help break up the boulder, Caltrans spokeswoman Angela DaPrato said. They were also working to repair a guard rail damaged by the rocks.

Last summer, Echo Summit was among the areas affected by the 221,000-acre Caldor fire. Rock slides and debris flow can occur near wildfire burn scars because of a lack of vegetation anchoring the soil.

DaPrato could not immediately confirm whether the rock slide was connected to the fire but said environmental teams were assessing the situation.

The road closure also comes amid a winter weather advisory issued by the National Weather Service, which spans several Sierra counties including the greater Lake Tahoe area and will remain in effect through Saturday afternoon.

In the Tahoe area, the advisory calls for as much as 10 inches of snow at elevations above 7,000 feet and up to 5 inches in lower areas.

Hazardous driving conditions, including slick roads, and low visibility are likely, and drivers are advised to carry snow chains and supplies.

DaPrato said even if crews are able to clear the rocks from the highway, the weather could still create closures or delays.

“We are hoping to reopen it today,” she said of the highway. “The only way that wouldn’t reopen is due to high snow volumes.”

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