ELKO – The roads may get worse before they get better, according to County Roads Supervisor Terry Lister.
The February thaw is causing havoc on several roads throughout the county. Many roads, such as Last Chance, have standing water and potholes caused by snowmelt.
Assistant County Manager and Natural Resources Manager Randy Brown said Wednesday that staff is trying to identify the high priority roads.
“We’re going to do the best we can to try to get those roads back to where they need to be at least passable and go on,” he said. “As Terry reminded me this morning, just keep in mind this is still February. We still have about 198 percent of snowpack up there. Be ready for March and April.”
Lister said some of the roads are too wet to grade properly. He said the problem roads are Last Chance Road, Coal Mine Canyon and South Fork.
He said despite the thaw, when crews grade the roads they are pulling up ice that is underneath the mud and water. He said the puddles are not going to go away.
“We have so much low-lying snow, I don’t think we’ve even begun to see the worst of it yet,” Lister said. “… I think the biggest thing is everybody really needs to have a lot of patience and wait this out.”
Ryndon resident Charles Schaer asked the commissioners why his dirt road wasn’t being maintained. He brought photos of a foot-deep trench down the middle of his road.
Commissioner Glen Guttry told Schaer that unfortunately when many subdivisions were built, the County accepted them for public access but did not agree to maintain those new roads. The companies that built them were supposed to set up something like a homeowners association to maintain the roads.
Commissioner Delmo Andreozzi said there are 15,000 miles of roads in Elko County that aren’t in the maintenance system.
Brown said for many years there were no laws governing subdivisions in Nevada and there are 64 major subdivisions in Elko county that were created with no requirements or criteria.
“It’s the same old thing, there’s great need, huge need for road repairs everywhere in the (county) and there’s a very limited source of revenue,” Guttry said. “I hate to tell you, but we do have a really good road plan and we have one and a half million dollars a year in additional funding that we’re going to address some of these high populated areas and connector roads like in Ryndon and the one I’m familiar with is Indian Hills, but to do any other roads, there’s just no money for it.”
The commissioners and Brown suggested to Schaer that if he gets enough of his neighbors to agree, they could set up a general improvement district to maintain the roads. Brown said he and others tried several years ago but it didn’t go through because 66 and 2/3 of the property owners have to agree.