First off I want to thank the DOT road crew that came down on Jan. 29 and cleaned out the “Ice Field” 2.4 miles down Highway 317. I had to call the DOT office on the morning of Jan. 28 and left a not so nice message, because this area had gotten so bad that I was just spinning in the deep ruts in the ice on my way to work. Last winter when I called the DOT office and asked to have the area scrapped, I was told it was not the State Road Department’s problem, that the problem was caused by past flooding and the creek bed was now higher than the highway and the Corp of Engineers has to come in and dig out the creek bed. I still don’t understand why the bid for the highway repairs that went out and was won and the bid winning company started repairs in 2010, but the bid did not include raising this section of the highway higher than the creek bed. As a result, the company that won that bid went out of business after the 2010 Christmas flood washed the road out AGAIN before the company could sign off on the completion of the project!
I read the Lincoln County Record, Volume 144, No. 22, this past week and was shocked to see the article “Redesign Recommended for Local Wash” on the front page. As I read, I was shocked again by the statement that the problem area was only .5 miles down Highway 317. That distance puts you underneath the Train Trestle. The area where the creek bed is higher than the highway is at 2.4 miles through 2.7 miles down Highway 317.
I have worked for Rainbow Canyon Retreat for six years. We have been fighting this section of the highway every summer since the 2010 flood. In the spring, summer and early fall months, we have to drive through water which can get pretty deep in the right lane going south. In the late fall and winter months, we deal with ICE. What started as a small area in the curve ½ mile from Kershaw Ryan State Park, has now spread down Highway 317 to about one-third of a mile. The ICE gets pretty thick and as the water continues to flow under it, it causes vehicles to fall through the ice making very deep ruts in the ice and unless you are the ONLY ONE on the road and your wheels fit into those ruts, it can get pretty bad. There have been SEVERAL wrecks and a lot of damage to vehicles caused by this dangerous area. Three of those wrecks were our employees. There is an area of this ice field that actually has a creek that flows across the highway and cuts through the ice and the lack of maintenance causes the ice to get as deep as 15 inches which makes for a tense crossing. I personally would like to know why our local and county government officials have done nothing to try to get this problem corrected for the sake of public safety. It’s nice that they have been looking at it, but we need some action. Rainbow Canyon Retreat brings into Caliente and Lincoln County an average of $718,600.00 per year. Our vehicles travel this road every day of the year. Our road maintenance tax dollars DO NOT GO TO MAINTAIN THE VERY ROAD WE HAVE TO TRAVEL TO OUR JOBS SO WE CAN PAY TAXES IN THE CITY and COUNTY! And it’s not JUST US; it’s the Union Pacific Railroad crews, the LC Telephone crews, the LC Power crews, UPS, FEDEX, Thomas Petroleum, US Food Delivery trucks and the other residents that live down Highway 317 that have to travel through this mess. WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO GET SOMETHING DONE HERE?
My son was killed in an accident in Clark County in an area that had seen NUMEROUS ACCIDENTS prior to his. The State did nothing to prevent all those accidents from happening until my son and his friend died there. THEN AND ONLY THEN did they lower the speed limit and install chevron reflectors. It took my son and his friend dying there before someone would do something to correct the problem! Does someone have to die in this area of Highway 317 before the state will do anything about this problem? If so, who will it be? Will it be you, your son, your daughter or a loved one? Any volunteers? Personally, I’m sick of this! IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS WAY!
I AM A TAXPAYING CITIZEN OF CALIENTE IN LINCOLN COUNTY, NEV. and I, along with every other taxpaying employee of Rainbow Canyon Retreat and local residents who live down Rainbow Canyon, take our lives into our hands each day we try to get to and from work or town. Our vans travel this road every day of every week of every year taking staff and students to the local stores, hospital, clinic, gas station and pharmacy. This situation could be prevented with a weekly scraping of this area but the State Road Department WILL NOT MAINTAIN this area of highway on a regular basis. It takes leaving a ‘not-so-nice’ message on the voicemail of the DOT to get a crew down here. Why they can’t send one guy to drive down here once a week to assess the situation is beyond me. Now that the DOT has scrapped all the ice away, which is nice, and thank you again, we are right back to having water over the highway which will just freeze again and our problems continue.
Until someone in our state, local and or county government takes the necessary steps to get this problem resolved, it will continue to be a very dangerous section of Highway 317 and as the past has shown, it will continue to spread and grow. I pray that someone doesn’t have to die in this area before something is done to resolve this situation.
WE ARE PLEADING FOR HELP FROM OUR LOCAL, COUNTY AND STATE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS!
Patsy Dye, Caliente