Placer pilots Highway 89 turn lane extension to relieve traffic congestion during ski weekends

Published on February 22, 2018

Southbound traffic on state Route 89 can back up from the entrance of Squaw Valley to Interstate 80 during a big ski weekend. On Saturday, Placer County will continue a pilot project to extend the turn lane into the resort, aimed at relieving this congestion.

Placer began a limited trial of the turn lane extension Feb. 17, and will launch it in full Feb. 24 and March 3.

The existing turn lane into Squaw Valley is only about 250 feet - long enough to accommodate about 12 cars. As traffic into the resort slows, cars outside the turn lane headed for Squaw Valley must wait in the sole southbound lane of state Route 89, holding up through traffic. The pilot project will extend the turn lane along the road shoulder by 2,000 feet, separating another 100 cars from southbound through traffic.

Electronic signs will be placed along state Route 89 to help guide Squaw Valley-bound traffic into the turn lane extension, which will be marked with traffic cones.

The pilot is one of several state Route 89 congestion-relieving measures Placer County is exploring in partnership with Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Caltrans and the California Highway patrol, including increased transit service and possibly a dedicated third lane for transit vehicles. The group will evaluate the results of the pilot lane extension project to determine whether to expand it next winter.