By Carlos Correa

STANISLAUS NATIONAL FOREST (CBS13) — Snow in the Sierra has forced many families to change their summer time plans as several roadways leading up to the mountain top have closed.

Caltrans is working quickly to clear all the snow and help make things safe for the traveling public.

A little over 100 miles northeast of Stockton, deep in the Stanislaus National Forecast, State Route 4 in Ebbets Pass is being cleared for visitors.

“We clear snow, which is basically plowing. Then, we run our graders out and the blowers will blow it off the road,” said Mike Johnson, supervisor of Highway 4, Caltrans.

Crews have been working 24/7 since April to prepare the roadways leading up to the mountain.  While one crew is clearing the snow, other crew members are focused on ditch work, asphalt repair and tree trimming.

“Safety is No. 1, to get the roadways safe as possible; getting the snow removed is the majority to where we can see our asphalt. We can check our drainages to make sure the drainages are open, make sure if there are any drop offs in the shoulder, they’re repaired, we get all the sweeping done towards the end, and then usually we try to get the stripping crew up to re-strip the highway,” said Johnson.

Down near Sonora Pass, Caltrans has embedded a wire in the center of the highway to help find the road that’s covered deep in snow.  Crews electrify the line using a locator to detect it.

“We walked down the middle of the road, and we can read the current to the detector. So, as I’m walking up the hill, the bulldozers behind me are clearing wide after that bulldozer clears the road, everyone knows this is the center of the road,” said Rick Estrada, public information officer for Caltrans.

The crew uses environmentally-friendly marks for the dozer to follow, pushing the snow down to the blower.  The operation helps the road crew s stay safe as they clear the paths.

“It’s very steep.  There are a lot of slopes and with that current, that allows us to keep everything towards the center and safety is always a big deal with us. So, whatever we can do to keep it safer, we’re headed that direction,” he said.

Crews expect to have all roads clear by July and plan to be up in the mountains regularly for maintenance.


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