Golden Valley to get highway shortcut, but its value is questioned

GOLDEN VALLEY - A smoother, faster means of driving through Golden Valley will soon be in the works, but not everybody - particularly Golden Valley residents - is on board.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors approved last week a recommendation from the Mohave County Transportation Commission to allow the Public Works Department to apply a soil stabilizer and hard surfacing chip seal maintenance treatment to 6 miles of Golden Valley roads used as a shortcut between U.S. 93 and state Route 68.

A half-mile section of Colorado Road from Burro Road to Agua Fria Road and a 5.3-mile section of Legend Ranch Road from Agua Fria Road to U.S. 93 as county highways in the Golden Valley area will be accepted into the Mohave County Maintenance System as asphalt hard surfaced.

The Northeast Golden Valley Corridor connecting the two major highways will be a two-lane hard-surfaced road and will cost roughly $550,000.

The plan

County Public Works Director Steven Latoski offered the overview. He said the idea is to provide and improve a corridor of regional significance that connects Route 68 and U.S. 93 for the purpose of achieving better access points and reduction in travel time near Mineral Park and the landfill.

The route could also improve drive times by helping drivers save as much as five minutes versus traveling via the existing 68/93 interchange. It would also cause redistribution of existing traffic flow through the interchange. How much traffic redistribution has not yet been determined, but Latoski said that when Stockton Hill Road was paved past Pierce Ferry Road, vehicle traffic went from 220 vehicles a day to 740.

Soil stabilization gives more strength to underlying soil and roadbed. When chip seal is applied, the process yields a hard surfaced road which differs from asphalt concrete roads largely on the basis of structural capacity and provides a level of lasting surface that supports lighter traffic loads with the occasional garbage truck or school bus.

"Most drivers can find barely any difference between that and asphalt," said Latoski. "It's a cost-effective mode of delivering a hard surface road to the public."

He said the improvements would benefit Golden Valley residents and roads by reducing 7.4 miles of pass through traffic from Las Vegas to Bullhead City and Laughlin.

"The road would be palatable to certain users of the existing interchange," he stated.

Alternate routes have been examined but travel through dense residential areas and roads subject to frequent flooding forced engineers to consider other possibilities.

Legend Ranch Road already fits existing county engineering standards and doesn't require other drainage engineering.

"I sincerely believe that if the corridor is hard surfaced, with time savings and appeal to regional travelers, it would divert traffic from north 93 (for those) needing to do business in Bullhead City and Laughlin (and they) could find the route palatable," Latoski said.

At the least, he said the shortcut would see traffic of a few hundred vehicles a day that won't be on Highway 68 where it currently meets U.S. 93.

GV residents sound off

"I'm vehemently opposed to this. Those moneys can be spent elsewhere," said Rick Armstrong.

He said that the proposed road only gets 12 cars a day.

"If you're looking to improve roads, there's a list of them that get far more traffic."

"We appreciate the investment in Golden Valley. There is a dramatic need for roads to be hard surfaced or paved," said Steven Robinson. "However, there are other roads that are much more valuable and in need of money."

"This would benefit people in the valley. The shortcut is already used anyway," said Catherine Rumney, who frequently uses Colorado/Legend Ranch Road as a shortcut to hit the 93 on the way to Las Vegas or Chloride. "I'm not sure about the 12 cars a day, but more people will use it if it's paved."

Supervisor Hildy Angius was skeptical of the costs associated with this particular route.

"That's a lot of money. I want to know where it's coming from. It's a very small car count," she said.

Interstate corridor

Supervisor Gary Watson discussed the possibility of Legend Ranch being an arterial road to the proposed Interstate 11.

"If I-11 is designated and approved, will construction of this road enhance the ability of us to have access to I-11 with an overpass?" asked Watson.

"I'm trying to plan ahead. I don't see a lot of other opportunities for other arterials. I look at this project of one of return on investment for future years."

"It's a large investment for Golden Valley and a big improvement," said Chairwoman Jean Bishop. "I think it's (I-11) coming faster than some people think."

She mentioned that the route will improve response time to the freeways by emergency services.

"I suspect the amount of traffic will increase and it will be good for Golden Valley," she said. "I'm (also) looking at EMS response should Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District not be successful or major accidents on I-11."

"Emergency response is a big thing," said Arizona Department of Transportation engineer Alvin Stump. "Five or six minutes can mean life or death for someone involved in an accident."

When paving begins

Public Works is preparing to carry out the heavy maintenance project during the summer months. They have already commenced work toward project delivery, including a survey for the purpose of properly situating the new road surface alignment as well as planning the supplyof materials.

"Now that we have supervisors providing direction, we have to work to lay out a schedule," Latoski said.

Public Works will also provide advance notice of the work prior to crews commencing roadbed preparation (clearing, grading, and stabilizing) and subsequent hard-surfacing. Regular updates will be provided throughout the project period.

"We do like to reach out to the public and let them know about these projects," Latoski clarified.

The Board approved funding for this project from the County's Highway User Revenue Fund at a meeting in February. The project funding at that time was approved as part of a greater road program inclusive of chip seal, level course, and structural pavement treatment work.

HURF moneys come from fuel tax collections, vehicle license and registration, and transportation user fees. The taxes represent a primary source of revenues available to the state for highway construction, improvements and other related expenses.

A construction schedule is still being finalized. More information will be available at www.mohavecounty.us.