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Logistics Thwart Sonora Pass Supplemental Plowing Contract

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors discussed whether to spend up to about $70,000 to bring in extra snow plows to assist Caltrans and ensure that Highway 108 Sonora Pass is open by Memorial Day weekend.

In the end, it was denied by the board out of concerns that it would take several weeks just to get contracts in place and acquire needed permits, and by that point, it will already be nearing Memorial Day. District Three Supervisor Anaiah Kirk was the lone vote in favor of proceeding forward.

Caltrans has maintained that it is still hoping to have the pass open by Memorial Day weekend. However, Kirk says it took one month to plow seven miles and reach Eagle Meadows (accomplished yesterday). He says there are still 13 miles to reach Kennedy Meadows, and another 12 to the pass. He fears the math doesn’t add up (Memorial Day opening) and is concerned it could be late June or July when the full pass is cleared. There are also uncertainties about what types of challenges crews will find when they reach higher elevations.

Kirk’s request to hire supplemental crews came after meeting with local business owners who rely on the uptick in traffic along the Highway 108 corridor.

Kirk says he will work toward long-term solutions with the State of California, adding, “I am going to continue to advocate that our economic summer starts on Memorial Day weekend. It is not acceptable to not have (annual state required) opening dates for that pass.”

The supplemental contract would have required a 4/5 vote of the board.