Sierra travelers see long drive times as storm affects traffic

California

KINGVALE, Calif. (KTXL) — The snow in the Sierra tested the patience of drivers trying to get up and over the summit Thursday night. 

It’s been anything but smooth sailing in the higher elevations. It can take more than twice as long to travel distances, and at times, drivers are not going anywhere as traffics backs up at chain control checkpoints. 

The first chance to pull over and regroup never felt so good for some. 

“It’s a lifesaver. We were getting close; we needed to stop,” traveler Greg Hollingsworth said. 

The Hollingsworths flew out recently from Kansas to spend Christmas in Tahoe. Sitting in stop-and-go traffic was not ideal, but they were prepared. 

“It was actually really fun. Our kids brought a trivia game, so we were playing trivia the whole time,” Natalie Hollingsworth said. 

Stopping at times isn’t just a chance for people to stretch their legs. For some, it’s the difference between traveling or not traveling any further on eastbound Interstate 80 as chains are necessary. 

Drivers can have someone put them on for them or do it on their own. 

Traveler Keith Nehlsen chose to do it himself while swearing he is dressed for the occasion — he’s in sandals. 

“It feels soothing,” Nehlsen exclaimed. “I’m not worried about the cold water I surfed Santa Cruz. This is all second nature; it feels refreshing.” 

Others rely on chain and cable installers. 

“I’ve been here for about an hour and I’ve done probably 15 sets already,” chain installer Troy Richmond said. 

Richmond said how many more sets he does will depend on chain controls, but he has previously said when the snow comes, they will sell around 1,000 sets of tire chains in just a few days.

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