MINDEN - A joint effort by Douglas County and Bently Nevada means Buckeye Road will soon be straighter and safer.
County road personnel have been working with Bently to install a new culvert and remove a sharp curve in Buckeye Road where it crosses a canal east of Orchard Road. The work could be completed by the end of the week.
County leaders authorized Community Development Director Bob Nunes to do the work using money left from other projects. Though Nunes originally expected the work to cost about $100,000, Bently offered to assist with the project and Nunes now thinks the cost will come in below $50,000.
"It's a good feeling to be able to work with the public and the community," said Nunes. "They have been extremely cooperative and very, very helpful. It's been a great project."
He said Bently provided a new culvert to guide the canal under the realigned road, saving the county those costs. County and Bently staff teamed up to handle engineering plans, and each entity supplied heavy equipment and operators to the project.
Area residents who originally asked the county to consider the project had suggested they would be willing to help, but Nunes said their resources weren't needed. He did credit the residents for researching the road right-of-way to ensure the work could be done. The work will only affect a few hundred feet of the road, where it previously zigged at the canal.
The canal crossing was the site of a single-car rollover in July 1998 that resulted in the death of Minden resident Jennifer Jo Smith, 17. She was westbound near the curve when her car rolled. Smith was submerged for several minutes before rescue crews reached her. She died a few days later.
Lombardy Road resident Garry Leiss, who coordinated the right-of-way research, said he's been contacted by others who have been in accidents at the site, and they're relieved the work is being done, as is Jennifer Smith's mother, Pam.
"She simply wants to take care of a dangerous situation so no one has to go through what she has gone through," said Leiss. "I'm pleased that it's going forward. The main thing is we now have a straight road through there. Numerous people have gone into that ditch."
When the realignment is complete, the road will be resurfaced with rock and gravel and topped with asphalt grindings.