Chain sales up on I-80

Restrictions stall westbound traffic
By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
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Business at Applegate Chain Sales climbed over the weekend, but Monday morning it was raining yet trucks were still being stopped on the Interstate 80 exit ramp. At noon Monday, westbound traffic on I-80 was stop-and-go from Truckee to Kingvale, a result of snowy conditions and chain restrictions, according to Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger. Snow pelted higer elevations Monday at Blue Canyon and Truckee. Caltrans personnel were at the eastbound I-80, Applegate exit to tell truckers they better have chains for the snow ahead or face the fines. Fines for not having chains could range from $750 and above, according to one trucker who spent the night at Applegate rather than travel further. Over the weekend, I-80 was closed to truck traffic at times. Owner Dave Goff of Applegate Chain Sales sold 150 pairs of car chains, while truck-chain sales were slow. “They stop all the trucks here, so if they don’t have chains they come down here and buy chains,” Goff said. “Truck sales were slow cause they closed the road on Saturday and Sunday because of accidents.” At Goff’s shop, truckers would be out $430 to chain up eight tires on three axels. Before the weekend storm, chain sales were down. “It’s been dry up until this point,” Goff said. “We’re only open during chain control. It was a good weekend (for sales), but not great.” Sid and Sharon Cook, former Auburn residents, pulled into the chain shop Monday pulling a horse trailer full of furniture with their Dodge pickup truck enroute to Idaho. Chain inspectors told them they would need to put chains on their trailer when they got further east of Applegate on I-80 and into the snow. At 11:30 a.m. Monday, there were no chain restrictions on eastbound I-80, but if Cook had to put chains on his trailer, it would have cost him $86, plus tax, at Applegate Chain Sales. Trucker Donnie Benytson already had chains for his 18-wheel, flatbed truck that he was driving to Reno Monday. He said his chains were worn and he purchased a pair of new ones at the Applegate shop for $115. Benytson’s truck was empty Monday. He said he would reload in Reno for a trip to Las Vegas. “I’m hoping it’s not bad conditions up here,” Benytson said. Caltrans’ Dinger said they measured the largest snowfall of the season, 16.5 inches in one day, Monday at their Kingvale station which sits at 6,100 feet elevation. Caltrans held all westbound traffic Monday starting at 12:45 p.m. due to snowy road conditions. On Sunday night, I-80 traffic was held from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. due to vehicle spinouts. “At one point, traffic backed up for five miles from Yuba Gap to Cisco,” Dinger said. “From Kingvale to Truckee chain restrictions were on almost continuously until about 10 a.m. The lowest we had chain controls was at Alta at 3,600 feet.” Motorists expecting to head through the Sierra Tuesday should carry chains and be prepared to deal with 10 to 16 inches of new snow that’s expected by our forecasters, Dinger said. According to meteoroligist Holly Osborne with the National Weather Service, foothill precipiation will subside soon. “By Wednesday, the low pressure system should be east of us,” Osborne said. “The wind level should die down by Tuesday afternnon but may be strongest Tuesday morning. Precipitation should die down Tuesday evening.” Snow for today will be at higher elevations. “We’re looking a snow levels to be at about 3,000 feet,” Osborne said. “At elevations above 5,000 feet, they should get six to 12 inches. In the early morning snow could drop down into Grass Valley and the foothills.”