For the first time since it was the neck of an active volcano, Cave Rock will see an addition of material as a means to get traffic safely along the east shore of Lake Tahoe.
Looking very much like a cave, the lakeside tunnel of Highway 50 will be extended 60 feet by the Nevada Department of Transportation.
The 27-foot tall structure will replicate natural colors, patterns and textures to match the existing rock face.
Lighting and white paint will be added inside each tunnel for better visibility and two new radar-activated overhead signs will be installed to automatically notify drivers of bicyclists or potentially icy conditions in the tunnels. Highway 50 lanes through both tunnels and the roadway median between Cave Rock and the Cave Rock State Park boat launch entrance will also be paved.
In addition, water quality improvements such as enhanced roadside drainage inlets and sediment filtration systems will be installed along Highway 50 from one mile to four miles north of Cave Rock.
During construction, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction through the eastbound Cave Rock tunnel, with reduced speed limits and some limited travel delays to be expected. Oversize and overdimensional semi-trucks will not be permitted through the tunnel during construction. Periodic, short-term lane closures will also take place on Highway 50 north of Cave Rock. The approximately $6 million project by contractor Q&D Construction will continue through fall of 2016.
During the winter of 2014-2015, heavy rains loosened boulders from the rock face above the Cave Rock tunnel, with some of the boulders reaching the roadway. Rock fall reduction and slope stabilization experts removed rock debris above the tunnel and a temporary netting was installed to help catch potential rockfall until the tunnel extension is fully constructed.
“Making sure that drivers get safely where they need to go is our top priority,” NDOT District Engineer Thor Dyson explained. “This project is just one of many ways we are enhancing travel and preserving motorist safety in the Tahoe area.”