In October of last year, Caltrans successfully completed – five days ahead of schedule – the Echo Summit Bridge Replacement Project. Over just two seasons, the project replaced a bridge that had served motorists traveling to and from Lake Tahoe since 1939.

Precast Bridge Tahoe


To expedite the construction schedule and minimize closure of the Highway 50 route, Caltrans and contractor Q&D Construction used the Accelerated Bridge Construction Method. This construction process incorporates precast, prestressed girders, concrete overlays, precast columns, and precast abutments to speed the process. Seven 96-foot bridge girders were trucked up to the construction site, and to enhance the durability of the bridge structure, ultra-high-performance concrete was poured to connect the girders.

Echo Bridge 3

Other associated work included building concrete barrier walls and approach slabs, applying a polyester overlay on the bridge, and asphalt paving on the highway approaches to the bridge.

Echo Sumit Bridge US 50

The new bridge features safer, wider lanes as well, replacing the 24-foot-wide road width with a 30.75-foot road width, accommodating two 12-foot lanes, a 5.75-foot shoulder on the right side and a one-foot shoulder on the left side.

Thanks to Tim Greutert and Steve Nelson of Caltrans for their contributions to this article.  Photos are courtesy of Steven Nelson, Brandon Miller, and Tyler R. Harper.