By Dave Maxwell
A section of U.S. 93 between mile marker 37 southward to just before the Narrows at Maynard Lake, is a section of road county commissioners asked the Nevada Department of Transportation to add to their priority worklist for 2018 or earlier if possible.
Commission vice-chair Varlin Higbee, a retired NDOT employee, said truckers he has talked with have dubbed that section of the highway “Pin Ball Alley.”
Higbee said it was his understanding that stretch is “close to four feet narrower than the rest of the highway, and when you are driving through in a big rig, it feels really narrow, especially when you pass another truck going the opposite direction near those guard rails. Like driving in a tunnel.”
Department officials were at the commission meeting Monday discussing their local government planning goals and asking for input as to what projects need to be considered which perhaps they had missed in their workshop planning sessions of top county concerns.
Higbee explained because the road is narrow in those places, “If you hit something, you’re going to ricochet like a pinball.” He noted during his 30 years with NDOT, there were several accidents, even a few fatal accidents, that occurred in that stretch. “You get stuck in there with a car coming at you, there is nowhere to go. The guardrail is almost on the white line.”
When NDOT made their presentation to commissioners of the long range annual work plan this concern was not on the list. “I would like to see it be moved up to the top five priorities,” Higbee said. “We have talked with them about this before about widening the highway on that stretch.”
Another concern in the same general area which Higbee mentioned are the drop offs just over the guardrails. In some places, he noted, the fills there are up to 75 feet above the valley floor. “The guardrails do help if there is not another car or truck coming, but we have had times when a vehicle glanced off a guardrail and bounced over into oncoming traffic.” Some fatalities have occurred.
Sondra Rosenberg, NDOT Assistant Director for Planning, said they did have specific locations on 93 where work is already planned, and they would seek to add that whole area to the list for further study.
She asked if this request was to replace one of the top two previously identified priorities and commissioners said it was.