Highway 50 near South Lake Tahoe reopens after rockslides

A boulder more than twice as high as a nearby worker blocks a two-lane highway
A boulder tumbled onto Highway 50 at Echo Summit in El Dorado County, blocking the road for nearly an entire day.

A rockslide forced the closure of U.S. Highway 50 in El Dorado County, but crews were able to clear the roadway by Friday evening.

The California Department of Transportation said a massive boulder had tumbled into the highway at Echo Summit during a rock slide around 6 p.m. Thursday, blocking the road for nearly a whole day.

The highway reopened about 3 p.m. Friday, but was again obstructed by a second rockslide around 5 p.m. The slide was much smaller than the one that occurred the previous day, Caltrans officials wrote on Twitter, and the roadway was back open about 20 minutes later.


Crews performed a blasting operation to help break up the boulder that initially blocked the highway, Caltrans spokeswoman Angela DaPrato said. They were also working to repair a guard rail damaged by the rocks.

Caltrans maintenance workers would be on site throughout the weekend to keep an eye on the conditions, the agency said.

Last summer, Echo Summit was among the areas affected by the 221,000-acre Caldor fire. Rockslides and debris flows often occur near wildfire burn scars because of a lack of vegetation anchoring the soil.

DaPrato could not immediately confirm whether the rock slide was connected to the fire but said environmental teams were assessing the situation.

The road closure came amid a winter weather advisory issued by the National Weather Service, which spans several Sierra counties including the greater Lake Tahoe area that will remain in effect through Saturday afternoon.

In the Tahoe area, the advisory calls for as much as 10 inches of snow at elevations above 7,000 feet and up to 5 inches in lower areas.

Hazardous driving conditions, including slick roads and low visibility, are likely and drivers are advised to carry snow chains and supplies.

DaPrato said the weather could still create new closures or delays.

Times staff writer Matthew Ormseth contributed to this report.