ECHO SUMMIT (CBS13) — A heads up for weekend travelers: starting Friday at 3 a.m., a trip to South Lake Tahoe will look a lot different.

Drivers can no longer get there on Highway 50, which is shut down both directions at Echo Summit for two weeks of bridgework.
Caltrans has put out a detailed map of detours. If you’re coming from Sacramento, you will need to get off Highway 50 at Highway 49 (Missouri Flat Road) in Placerville, then work your way through Amador County onto Highway 88 and then eventually Highway 89 into South Lake Tahoe. This detour will add about 45 minutes to the drive time.

Echo Summit Project Detours

The closure on Highway 50 means local businesses lose their main entrance.

“When you take away the general traffic, foot traffic for people even passing through, that’s going to be scary for anybody,” said Allison Amador, a waitress in South Lake Tahoe.

Amador was just told her hours might be cut due to a lack of traffic from this closure. This as businesses were just starting to recover from the pandemic.

“I don’t think they thought a lot about how it would influence people coming back from the COVID,” she said.

Brian Levy thinks the influence will be for the better.

“It’s not bad timing and it is what it is they’ve got to fix the bridge,” he said.

He owns the Divided Sky, one of the first hangouts you see headed into town. He said the reduction in traffic could be a blessing.

“The slower this area gets, the more comfortable locals will feel coming up to the local bar,” he said.

Will the big detour be a big deterrent? Many in Tahoe think the smoky air is what will really keep people away.

To learn more about the closure and the project, visit https://www.way2tahoe.com/

Because the detour is so long and takes travelers through several counties, a marketing firm was hired to promote the businesses that are along the detour route, and they’re encouraging people to check out local historical spots.