Column: County spending big on a road to nowhere
Congratulations Ric Swats for an informative column (KDM 9-28). I believe that Legend Ranch Road will be part of an integral north-south highway through the heart of Golden Valley … in twenty years.
I saw the potential before last February when this road was proposed by Public Works Director Steve Latoski, and approved by the board. It links Golden Valley to I-11 on the north. There’s just one hitch ... I-11 isn’t even expected to be built for two decades. Building Legend Ranch now isn’t forward looking, it’s fantasyland.
So Supervisor Bishop and County Engineer Hendrix surprised me when they pushed this road, with just 12 vehicles per day traffic. Its “claim to fame” is being a shortcut to the dump. Bishop said it “… would eliminate, I believe, a lot of criminal littering and dumping that is out in the desert because that road leads right to the Mohave County landfill.” Really? Is she serious? Is that WHY they pushed it so hard this year, or was it simply election year politics?
Golden Valley has many other roads needing improvement which have been overlooked for years, even decades. Shinarump Drive, Teddy Roosevelt and Bacobi Roads in south Golden Valley come to mind. Promises of hard surfacing have been made … and broken. Shinarump was even listed on the county’s 5-Year Capital Improvement Road Program a decade ago, but dropped. Virtually all of the North Star Steel settlement allocated to roads was spent north of Highway 68, ignoring these roads. Hundreds of cars use them daily despite their poor condition. Giving residents a shorter, viable route to Kingman is logical, so why hasn’t the county done anything for roads with clearly more traffic?
But that’s just one issue. The Legend Ranch project far exceeds what the supervisor approved. In fact, they’re building a whole new road, complete with culverts. They haven’t they installed culverts anywhere else in Golden Valley – what’s their endgame?
Last February, Hendrix’s report stated “Initial Soil Stabilization Program projects will apply a MC-250 asphalt oil penetration and stabilization of the native road subgrade coupled with double chip seal installation.”
Notice the phrase “native road subgrade.” The board was told repeatedly that this is simply soil stabilization. If so, why are there engineered plans, survey stakes, culverts, and millions of dollars set aside for work not even approved by the board?
Furthermore, Latoski told the Transportation Commission last April, “For soil stabilization, engineering plans are not required when the road is laid out to county adopted engineering standards and requires no engineered road drainage improvements,” and repeated it to the supervisors in May for approval as a county highway.
Hendrix and Latoski began extensive surveying, engineering and layout of Legend Ranch, planned major excavation and installation of culverts in several washes. None of that work was approved, much less budgeted. In eight weeks of construction, none of the 6.3-mile road has received any soil stabilization treatment. It’s estimated that over $1 million in labor and material for excavation has been already expended, with costs expected to double. I’m sure a lot of contractors could use the work, yet not one dime has been let out to bid. Why is that?
ARS 34-201(D) states “… any street, road, bridge … may be constructed either with or without the use of the agent’s regularly employed personnel without advertising for bids, provided that the total cost of the work does not exceed …” approximately $180,000. So why are they performing unapproved work, all in-house, with no contractors? WHAT are Hendrix and Latoski thinking? I can imagine a number of road builders in Mohave County would love a $2-3 million project, much less the $550,000 original soil stabilization project.
Why are they so desperate to build Legend Ranch Road? That, my friends, is the $2 million question. And the answer may be just behind us … say, in last Tuesday’s primary election.