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Caltrans Readies As First Seasonal Storm Warning Issued For Sierras

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Nick Janes Nick Janes
Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) – A winter storm warning began Sunday for parts of the Sierra; and in Placer County, Caltrans is getting ready for the snow.

They’re familiar sights and sounds that can mean only one thing: the first storm of the season is on the way.

“We’re used to snow; that’s not an issue here,” said Bryan Carlson, Caltrans.

The issue is snow and ongoing Sierra construction, a potentially dangerous mix that could cause major delays.

“What are we gonna do with the traffic?” Carlson asks.

For a 10-mile stretch of westbound I-80, between Rainbow and Emigrant Gap, Caltrans plans to close the narrow lane marked for through traffic. That’ll leave only one westbound lane open during the storm, which is expected to last well into the work week.

“We can’t really plow the eastbound lane going in the westbound direction where we have that one really skinny lane,” said Carlson.

It’s the kind of mess drivers don’t want any part of.

“That’s why I’m headed over the pass,” said James Schmidt.

You can blame the onions, not the storm, for any tears at Donner Pass Pizza.

“We wanna go snowmobiling tomorrow, so it needs to come tonight,” owner Tom Santos said.

They’re banking on a big snow season like many Sierra businesses.

“Two years ago we got snow on Wednesday and it didn’t stop until July,” said Santos.

Early on drivers were heading down the hill. They might be the ones suffering with the conditions, which are only partly to blame.

The construction project is expected to last another two to three weeks. Extra CHP patrols are on hand to help deal with westbound traffic.

CBS13 cameras caught traffic backed up for miles. And that was with no snow. If that’s any indication, it could be a rough ride this coming week.

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