MARYSVILLE – Caltrans is alerting motorists traveling in the Sierra foothills, mountain areas or over the Donner or Echo Summits to be prepared for winter driving conditions, especially at the higher elevations and in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Motorists should also expect delays caused by increased traffic congestion from additional motorists traveling to the mountains during the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.
Tthe National Weather Service forecast for sunny and partly sunny conditions in the Sierras for Friday, January 13 and through the weekend, combined with record amounts of new snowfall, will result in many traveling to mountain areas for recreation. Very cold overnight temperatures will freeze any melted snow, including on roadways. Motorists are encouraged to slow down and use extra caution on bridges, ramps, shaded areas and after sunset.
Additionally, while heavily traveled roadways may be free of snow, other roads will still be snow-covered and chain restrictions may be in force. Motorists are required to carry chains even if driving a four- or all-wheel drive vehicle with mud + snow rated tires.
Motorists traveling on U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit, or other Tahoe Basin/Sierra area roadways, may be held intermittently for avalanche control. Highway 89 over Emerald Bay is currently closed due to avalanche hazards. Traffic on Interstate 80 may also be held intermittently to clear any traffic incidents.
Caltrans snow removal and winter roadway operations will continue through the weekend. Motorists are instructed to keep a safe distance between their vehicle and Caltrans equipment and only pass when the whole roadway ahead is visible. These and other winter driving tips, can be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html including:
WINTERIZE YOUR VEHICLE
Replace the wiper blades and fill the windshield wiper fluid reservoir; be sure to use a winter formula to help de-ice windshields.
If traveling to higher elevations, carry tire chains correctly size for your tires, in good working order and practice installing the chains before needing to use them.
Have a full tank of fuel before traveling in case of delays.
CARRY A TRAVEL KIT
Have blankets, extra clothing, food and water, towels, a shovel, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a small bag of sand or kitty litter and road flares.
Have a fully charged cell phone before leaving and carry a car charger.
Turn on headlights to see and be seen and turn off cruise control.
Avoid quick starts, stops and fast turns. Accelerate, brake and steer smoothly and gradually.
Keep additional distance from other vehicles and do not tailgate.
CHECK CONDITIONS FREQUENTLY
Check out Caltrans' “QuickMap” for current road conditions and chain requirements at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov. A mobile version is also available.
Motorists also can use the California Highway Information Network automated phone service by calling 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).
Caltrans will issue updates on Twitter @CaltransDist3 and on Facebook at CaltransDistrict 3.
ANTICIPATE DELAYS AND CLOSURES
Allow for extra travel time or delay your travel until conditions or congestion improves.
Make sure you share the route you intend to take with friends or family. Using GPS to find alternate routes may lead to unplowed roadways or hazardous areas.
Exercise patience and respect for other motorists.
Motorists are urged to be “Be Work Zone Alert” and to “Slow for the Cone Zone.”