The gargantuan pile of snow sitting at the end of Sierra Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe is enough to fill 10,000 dump trucks. Billy Newman knows that because he and his crew hauled it down Highway 50 themselves.
“(This) is all the snow we collect from the inside of the boulevard here,” said Newman told 2 News on Thursday. He’s the CalTrans South Lake Tahoe maintenance supervisor.
“We push all the snow to the middle (of the road), and then we haul it to this location where it will sit and melt, and then we’ll clean up in the springtime,” he said.
He added that the stack is looking more massive than usual this year. CalTrans recently had to drive a snowcat and an excavator to the top to shift the snow backwards and create more room on the storage lot.
Once in a while, when the mound gets too tall, the snow slides back down and ruins their work.
“It’s been extremely challenging with the amount of snow that we have and the timeframe that it came in,” he said. “We have about 393 inches on record for this year, so that’s nearly 33 feet of snow in very short periods of time, short bursts.”
He and his team will be adding another 3,000 dump trucks of snow to the pile in the coming weeks as they continue to dig out the roads.
South Lake Tahoe and CalTrans workers have been plowing non-stop as winter storms relentlessly blanket the city. Maintenance employees with both agencies are on 12-hour rotating shifts, and they work every day. Newman said that CalTrans plow drivers often sleep in dorms, and when storms are heavy, they might not see their families for up to a month.
“We’re just doing what we can to provide a safe and reliable transportation network,” Newman said.
And one truckload at a time, they’re adding to the heap at the end of Sierra Boulevard.