Kingsbury expected to re-open today after rock slide on Monday closes grade |

Kingsbury expected to re-open today after rock slide on Monday closes grade

by Merrie Leininger

Kingsbury Grade, the main link between Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe, is expected to reopen today after a giant rock slide tumbled down the roadway.

State and county officials want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Nevada Department of Transport public relations officer Scott Magruder said the clean-up and stabilization will not be done until this afternoon.

“They worked through the night, and they were hoping for (Tuesday) morning, but decided they couldn’t get it done until Wednesday. We just want to stabilize the slope to make it a little stronger because safety is the primary concern,” Magruder said.

No one was injured in the slide which occurred Monday about a mile up from the Valley floor.

V.C. Construction of Gardnerville was recently hired to clear of the benches, level areas cut into the sides of slopes to catch falling rocks. Magruder said workers have also been helping with the clean-up process now.

He said geotechnical engineers have to go to the top of the slope to determine if more dirt and rocks need to be forced down to ensure they will not fall on their own in a few days. He said another bench will also have to be built.

“We realize the inconvenience, but it’s just something that needs to be done,” Magruder said.

Dick Mirgon of Douglas County Emergency Management said the county’s main concern was people would be able to get to their jobs in Stateline.

“Because tourism is one of our main sources of income in the county, it’s partly our responsibility to make sure those activities go on as unimpeded as possible,” Mirgon said.

“Whenever there is a closing of Kingsbury, we contact the casinos right away to let them know so they can let their employees know. Our job is to ensure they have alternative routes to and from from their jobs.”

Mirgon said most people have been understanding of the closing.

“Because it is towards the end of the winter, people who have lived in Douglas County for a while know that Kingsbury does get closed occasionally and they will have to use alternate routes,” he said. “We just try to keep the public appraised. It was a relatively small slide and because it’s a state highway, it’s the state’s responsibility to get it cleaned up. They’re doing a good job.”

n Eyewitness account. As he has every day for the past 20-plus years, David Thorne was heading home down Kingsbury Grade about 2:20 p.m., having finished his shift at Raley’s Supermarket in Stateline.

“I was coming around a corner and this white car was heading up the hill. The people were all waving their arms at me,” he said. “Just as I rounded the corner, I could see a whole bunch of rubble on the road.

Thorne stopped safely in front of a huge rock slide which tumbled into the middle of the roadway.

“I was the second car there. This gentleman and I got out and watched it and called 911 from my cell phone.”

“Small sections were still crumbling down. A major portion was lying across the road.”

Thorne said he hiked up above the rockslide for an overall look. Some motorists, he said, moved rocks out of the way and drove around it before sheriff’s deputies closed Kingsbury Grade.

He said he slowed down before he came upon the rock slide because he could see the dust.

“This is the biggest one I have seen, not that I have seen that many,” Thorne said. “It would have buried a car.”

State Highway Trooper Brad Smith was one of the first police officers on the scene. He said because of underground springs in the area, it was only a matter of time.

“This whole road is a problem. A spring here in this hillside causes this to be moist all the time. It was going to come down sooner or later,” Smith said.

NDOT supervisor Danny Lopez told the R-C at the scene Tuesday afternoon an underground spring that runs through the hills caused the top of a bluff to become weighted down.

He said a similar incident occurred in 1997 after heavy rains that caused a mudslide.

n R-C reporter Sheila Gardner contributed to this story.