Roads in the Mormon Mountains in the Tule Desert, southeast corner of Lincoln County, have been deemed “not good,” according to some who have traveled there. Lincoln County Commission Chair Kevin Phillips, in the Aug. 15 commission meeting complained that some sections even have “large ditches.”
County Road Supervisor Shane Cheeney said the identified sections were in the Rainbow Pass and Snow Springs area and added that those areas have since been repaired.
Cheeney said the roads are in the maintenance agreement with the BLM, but there are some restrictions. “I have to have special permission to go in the Desert Tortoise habitat areas between Nov. 1 to March 1, unless there is an emergency.” He said fixing the roads in the Rainbow Pass and Snow Springs area fell under the emergency category.
Commissioner Varlin Higbee brought up the fact of the RS 2477 law, passed by Congress in 1866 which states, “The right-of-way for the construction of highways across public lands (i.e., Mormon Mountains), not reserved for public purposes is hereby granted.”
The law was replaced in 1976 with the Federal Land Policy Management Act, which specifically and explicitly reaffirmed all RS 2477 grants previously made.
County Planning Director Cory Lytle said they have been seeking to get the roads in the Mormon Mountains better prepared for being placed in a given category, of a two-track road, and Cheeney said all the dirt roads in the County are bladed at least once a year, “and a lot of them a lot more than that.”
He said an audit of the county roads was recently completed by the Nevada Department of Transportation and, “we received a 94 percent accuracy rating on the actual number of miles.” He explained an audit of county roads usually takes about three years to complete. He said the 94 percent was one of the highest audit ratings in the state. The figure is used for gas tax money.
Cheeney said at present efforts are underway to see if diesel tax money could be used along with gas tax monies, “but as it is right now, the county road department is run 100 percent on gas tax money alone, no general fund money either.”