A three-mile section of Highway 26 reopened this week after a 69-day full closure since early February due to slides, erosion and other damage related to intense storms this winter.

The key Calaveras County route through the 2013 Butte Fire burn connects Highway 49, Mokelumne Hill, West Point and Highway 88 in Amador County. The closure resulted in detours of up to 60 minutes additional driving for people in both counties.

According to Skip Allum of Caltrans District 10 in Stockton, both eastbound and westbound lanes of Highway 26 are now open from Higdon Road in Calaveras County to just east of the North Fork Mokelumne River Bridge in Amador County.

The closed section of Highway 26 was reopened at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Allum said. Workers plan to do final striping Friday with trucks equipped to paint the road and flashing lights to warn motorists.

Repairs on Highway 26 since early February include a roadside slip-out, a rock slide and culvert replacements, Allum said.

Allum said other factors made repairs on Highway 26 time-consuming.

In early March, workers removing debris from the rockslide fallout identified more overhead rock and debris that posed hazards to people working below. On March 15, workers detonated explosives to bring down loose, threatening rocks so those working below could do their jobs more safely.

Winter weather and cold temperatures also slowed repair efforts from time to time, Allum said.

An estimated $3.5 million has been spent on emergency repairs to Highway 26. A final total cost has not been tabulated.

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