KINGMAN - Business at an isolated Texaco station along U.S. Highway 93 near White Hills has improved since the opening of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge, but the lack of an immediate means for motorists to access the station from southbound 93 is continuing to take its toll on both the owner of the station and the motorists themselves.
According to station owner Eric Lynn, business at the Texaco station has gotten back to about where it was before the Arizona Department of Transportation began work on expanding U.S. 93 last year. During that time, he said, ADOT used electronic message signs to discourage travelers from using U.S. 93 on their way to or from Las Vegas, further eroding the Texaco's business.
"They had signs that basically said, 'Don't even take this road because of the construction,'" Lynn said. "So we're back to the level before that, but we're not back to the level we were when we first opened."
Despite more traffic coming into the store now, Lynn said sales figures have yet to rebound to what they were before ADOT installed a barrier in the median directly in front of the store to prevent motorists from crossing the median to get to it. That still hasn't dissuaded some motorists from simply crossing the median where the barrier ends, however, though such risky behavior has resulted in at least one accident since then.
"There was an accident recently right in that location that was, in some sense, caused by this situation," Lynn said.
According to the Department of Public Safety, the accident occurred at about 1 p.m. on Christmas Day. Lynn said an employee at the Texaco told him a motorist had gone to get gas but wanted to continue on southbound 93. The employee told the motorist they would have to continue several miles northbound before they could access a legal crossover, but instead the motorist attempted to illegally cross the median just north of the station.
"They tried to make a turn in a difficult area and they rolled the car," Lynn said. According to DPS, no other cars were involved and no injuries were reported, but Lynn said the situation still illustrates the need for some kind of legal crossover or interchange for Texaco's customers.
And the customers apparently agree - a petition that had been started up by Texaco's employees has gained roughly 2,000 new signatures since the Miner first highlighted the situation last September, with the petition itself now comprising nearly an inch thick stack of papers signed front and back.
While little progress has been made so far, Lynn is hopeful that his fortunes may soon change. Last month he hired the Agassiz Group, a Flagstaff-based consultant firm specializing in governmental affairs and public policy counseling. His hope is that Agassiz will be able to lobby on the Texaco's behalf to either ADOT, the state Legislature or other entities who may have a stake in the gas station's success.
"Right now we're in the process of researching the matter and we've made appointments with some ADOT officials to find out what their concerns are," said Agassiz Group consultant Matt Capalby. "We're going to hopefully be working with ADOT to find some mutual solutions to the situation out there."
Capalby said one solution could be to strike a deal with DPS or the Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire Department, which he said might be able to use a portion of the station's land to install an outpost there to better serve the White Hills community. Lynn added that by establishing such a public-private partnership, ADOT may be more willing to consider the positive ramifications of adding some form of turnaround in the vicinity.
"Because the response times are unacceptably long in that area, as the area grows, (DPS or the fire department) kind of need to have an outpost there," he said. "If they did, it could force the issue with ADOT."
Calls to ADOT Kingman District Public Information Officer Michele Beggs for further input on this story were not returned as of press time Friday.