'It was a nightmare': Sierra locals want solutions for unsanitary winter travelers

This story originally appeared on KCRA.

For Beverly Adams and dozens of her high-elevation neighbors, winter travel along I-80 was a chaotic, unsanitary slippery slope.

“It was a perfect storm,” Adams said. “We had high, record, snowfall, interstate closures for 48 hours and our rest area closed.”

The Gold Run rest area, a critical public restroom facility, is open now. But it was closed for maintenance through the winter.

“There’s no place for people to go to the bathroom and use services of any kind,” Adams said. “We don’t have restaurants, we don’t have gas stations. We’re very rural.”

Residents in Gold Run, Alta, Dutch Flat and other foothill towns, held a meeting with Caltrans, Placer County and the California Highway Patrol on Saturday, about motorists using private property as a restroom and garbage can.

“The communities up here—Gold Run, Alta, Dutch Flat—were just inundated with vehicles and people,” Adams said. “Going to the bathroom in people’s front porches, at businesses, and shouting and fighting with people– with residents.”

The goal was to find solutions.

“When they close the freeway down, everybody tries to get around the freeway—’My GPS says I can go there,'” Guy Graham, owner of the Mountain Springs Hitch-N-Post said. “It gets disgusting at times. People are stuck up here. They have nowhere to go. That’s why I was suggesting to Caltrans, maybe they just keep the rest stop open. Even if they have a problem with the restrooms, put port-a-potties in there.”

It wasn’t only Interstate 80 towns suffering problems. The towns of Pollock Pines and Camino in El Dorado County also faced similar encounters with motorists when Highway 50 was closed due to the weather.

“One of our worst moments was our fire station in Alta,” Adams said. “We had skiers and children blocking the road. The fire department got a call about a rollover with a child trapped in the car, and the fire department could not get out of the driveway. That was kind of a turning point for everyone. It wasn’t just an inconvenience anymore.”

The Placer County Sheriff’s Department said they will create a new Twitter handle for this specific issue. There was also discussion of adding more signage so drivers from the Bay Area and Sacramento Valley understand there are limited services and no alternate routes when I-80 and Highway 50 are shut down to Lake Tahoe.

“We’re not against them coming up. We just would like them to think about the ramifications of their actions,” resident Jerry Rioux said. “It’s not the wilderness up here. There are lot of people off on these side roads. We live up here.”

Residents in both counties also want navigation mobile apps like Waze, Google Maps and Apple Map to not divert drivers to side roads when the freeway is shut down, because there is not an alternate route to ski resorts, and drivers become stranded in areas without services.

“Pick up your trash, don’t leave your snow toys here. Try not to go to the bathroom in the snow,” Rioux said. “Common sense things. Things you would want me to do when I go to visit your neighborhood.”

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/gold-run-alta-restrooms-tahoe-drivers-13677106.php.

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