Four miles of Kingsbury Grade between Highway 50 and the summit will undergo construction next spring.
Engineers plan to take the road down to the base, and are looking for ways to do it in the most efficient way possible.
That may entail closing Kingsbury for a month over one season instead of stretching the construction out over multiple seasons.
“The department has identified that Kingsbury has failing pavement and we need to rebuild it,” said Project Manager Pedro Rodriquez of the Nevada Department of Transportation. “We’ve been tossing around how to restrict traffic, and if we do what happens during a regular project, we’ll restrict access for three years. What we’ve been doing is applying innovative methods to reduce the restriction to that traffic.”
Should the state close Kingsbury, motorists could take Highway 50 over Spooner or go through Hope Valley and over Luther Pass. Handling local and emergency traffic will also have to be worked out.
Department spokesman Scott Magruder pointed out that if traffic controls closed one lane at a time while the work was going on, motorists could spend up to a half hour waiting.
“The main thing we need to do is pave the road,” he said.
The road work includes going down 13 inches, including the pavement and the base, and rebuilding the highway. The last time crews worked on the Lake side of Kingsbury it was 1999.
Rodriquez said the highway will keep its present design. Some hydraulic improvements will be included in the project.
State highway officials will hold public meetings in late January or early February to let residents know what they plan to do.
State Assistant Construction Engineer Sharon Foerschler said the state wants to reduce the work time on Kingsbury as much as possible.
“Conventional procedure would mean we would be up there three seasons,” she said. “We’re looking at more innovative approaches that let us get in, and get quality we want. We don’t want to say we’re closing the road, but restricting it to through traffic for a period of time. This is not set in stone, it’s just one of the approaches we’re looking at.”
Magruder said 10,000 vehicles a day use the intersection at Highway 50 and Kingsbury. About half of that traffic consists of commuters from Carson Valley.
Many of the workers at the Stateline casinos live in Carson Valley and commute over the grade every day.
Magruder said the state is also talking to BlueGo bus service to find a way to improve mass transportation to the clubs.
This is the only major project Nevada has going at Tahoe next year.
The last major project on Kingsbury was the $6.8 million Peek Construction erosion control project which started in 2009, and continued through 2011 when work stopped.
Peek sued the state in January 2012 claiming it was owed $3 million.