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This sign on Bucks Lake Road alerts motorists to the annual road closure. Work to clear the roadway from snow begins May 15. Photo by Kelli Columbro

Plumas shares plan to reopen Bucks, LaPorte and Gold Lake roads

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

Five weeks at a cost of $60,000 to $70,000 per week — that’s what it’s going to take to open Bucks Lake Road for the summer season. There are shorter timelines for LaPorte Road and Gold Lake Road, and the cost is not as much.

Joe Blackwell, Plumas County’s deputy public works director who oversees the road crews, shared the information regarding road openings during an interview May 3. He said work will get underway on all three roadways on May 15. “We start countywide on the same day,” he said.

During the Board of Supervisors meeting May 2, Bucks Lake business owner DeWitt Henderson spoke during public comment about the “battle” every spring to get the roads open. He said that there is a short window for tourism and asked the board if anything could be done to get the roads open as soon as possible. “For 32 years I have seen it,” he said of the road issue. In addition to tourism impacts, Henderson said that with Highway 70 closed, the Bucks Lake-Oro Highway provides important access to the valley

While the board doesn’t respond during public comment, Board Chairman Dwight Ceresola said that he would be contacting Henderson.

Following is the information that Blackwell shared about the opening of Bucks Lake, LaPorte and Gold Lake roads. When asked if there were roads that were issues in the western portion of the county, Blackwell said that typically the road to Warner Valley is, but that loggers have kept it cleared this year during their tree removal operations.

Bucks Lake Road

Blackwell said that crews will begin at the summit on May 15 and make their way to the firehall, turn left onto Big Creek Road and then head to Bucklin Road and the county line. “It will take five weeks of solid snow removal,” he said, “at a cost of $60,000 to $70,000 per week.”

Crews will use two big dozers, two big snowblowers, graders, plows and fuel haulers.

La Porte Road

Crews will begin from the La Porte side and Blackwell estimates it will take them about two weeks to get to the lake, and then they will begin moving toward Quincy with crews on this side working to meet them. He said it will take approximately three to four weeks to reach Quincy, but the cost is about one-third to one-half of that at Bucks Lake Road because not as much equipment is in use.

Gold Lake Road

The county only has about four miles to plow on Gold Lake Road before it reaches the Sierra County line.  “We usually get our side opened up first,” Blackwell said, adding that the two counties coordinate efforts. On the Sierra County side, there are areas where there is still 9 to 10 feet of snow. Blackwell estimates it will take about two weeks to clear the Plumas side depending on the snow depth. There is also a significant amount of guardrail on the Plumas side, which slows the process.

Historically speaking

Blackwell said the last time there has been this great a challenge to reopen the roads was in 2011, and all three roads were opened the day before the Fourth of July. “In that year we received 93 percent of the snowfall after March 15. This year we closed roads Nov. 9,” Blackwell said he expects the roads to be much more difficult to clear this year due to the solid ice in some areas.

6 thoughts on “Plumas shares plan to reopen Bucks, LaPorte and Gold Lake roads

  • Thanks to Mr Blackwell and the County Road Dept for their work and this report. None of us realizes the enormous job it is to get the mountain pass roads open and repaired each spring and this year is especially challenging given the record snowfall.

  • How about the roads to Mt.Hough/Crystal Lake?
    Are they left to clear naturally?

    • Thank you for everything that you and your dedicated team do for us.

      I personally appreciate and am grateful for your teams exceptional and hard work so we are able to enjoy this beautiful area. It’s been a busy winter for you and I wish your team a wonderful summer.

      Cheers!

  • Thank you, Plumas County Roads. It is often a big job but a necessary one to provide access to all parts of the county. It is good to know what the plan is.

  • Sure would be nice to have the old timber reciepts to help pay for some of this!!

  • Since Caltrans has chosen to not prioritize opening 70 for the past few months maybe they could send some equipment and crews up to help get Bucks lake rd open

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