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WICKED WINTER DELAYS OPENING OF SIERRA PASSES

May 31,2017-

Stockton – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has announced that Ebbetts Pass/State Route 4 (SR-4) and Sonora Pass/SR-108 will not open for Memorial Day weekend. While Caltrans always strives to have these mountain passes open by the holiday weekend, the impact from one of California’s wildest winters in decades is requiring a massive cleanup.

Caltrans is anticipating that Ebbetts Pass and Sonora Pass will both be open within three to five weeks.

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Currently, eastbound travelers on Ebbetts Pass can go to the east end of Lake Alpine, while eastbound travelers on Sonora Pass can go as far as Kennedy Meadows.

Westbound travelers on Ebbetts Pass can go as far as Wolf Creek Road, but Ebbetts remains closed from Wolf Creek Road to the east of Lake Alpine. Westbound travelers on Sonora Pass can go 9 miles west of the SR-108/SR-395 junction before the snow gate.

This is the second time in the last decade that Ebbetts Pass will not open by Memorial Day weekend, and the first time in the last decade Sonora Pass will not be open by the weekend.

For a Caltrans News Dash update, please visit http://bit.ly/2rm5oDC.

Caltrans opened Monitor Pass/SR-89 on May 8, while Yosemite National Park clears Tioga Pass/SR-120 inside the park. Tioga is still being cleared and the park service does not have an estimate for opening.

Caltrans District 9 (Mono County) clears the east side of Sonora Pass/SR-108 up to the Tuolumne/Mono County, where it meets District 10. District 9 also clears SR-120 on the east side of the park, and westbound travelers can go 3.5 miles west of the SR-108/SR-395 junction.

Caltrans’ maintenance crews began clearing the mountain passes in April and are working on a 7-day-a-week schedule. They have encountered snow drifts up to 40 feet high, some the result of winter avalanches that sent hillsides of snow, boulders and trees spilling onto the highways.

Even during years of light snow, Ebbetts Pass and Sonora Pass are challenging when it comes to clearing, repairing and opening the roads. Ebbetts has grades in excess of 23 percent and Sonora has grades that top 20 percent, far beyond typical highway grades of 6 percent. The steep grades, high elevation and narrow lanes on these highways are unable to accommodate snow removal equipment and vehicular traffic at the same time.

Opening the passes involves more than merely clearing snow from the highway. Trees, shrubs, rocks and other debris that accumulate over winter are removed, while Caltrans inspects the road and makes repairs before it is deemed safe and opened for travel.

For the latest in highway information please call our Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).

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