Does Dayton need another bridge?

How many bridges does Dayton need?

Every time the issue of a second bridge across the Carson River in Dayton is raised we are presented an alarmist scenario of what could happen if the current structure is closed - by fire, flood, chemical spill, car/truck accident, even sabotage.

Any one of these scenarios could occur and I would still oppose the building of a second bridge as an unnecessary expenditure of my tax dollars.

Here are a few reasons why:

If there were a medical emergency while the bridge was closed, between the Nevada National Guard, local volunteers and hospital emergency medical helicopter services, a patient would probably be in the hospital faster than if 911 was called with the bridge open.

There are other exits available to the east and south if an emergency demanded it. Working with the owners of the properties along these routes, private and BLM, would prove considerably less costly than a second bridge. And the National Guard can install a portable bridge within 48 hours for those not in a hurry.

For those who think they might starve to death or need medication while awaiting rescue, airlifting needed items in, or transporting them in via the other access routes, should be no problem.

Some have raised the dreadful possibility of having 1,000 school children stranded by a closed bridge. I admit, that if I were a teacher, I would be terrified of losing my sanity if forced to spend a couple of 24-hour days marooned with them. But what else would be terribly alarming? I cannot think of a special need that could not be met - except, perhaps, that of alleviating the natural worry of a parent separated from their child. (Of course, if that child is a teenager, a parent might look upon it as a vacation!)

The reconstruction of the current four-lane bridge was completed in late 1991 at a cost of $2 million. A second crossing would most certainly have to be built to the same or higher standard. If the current structure is knocked out by a flood, for example, a second one of the same mold would most probably be affected in a similar manner.

According to state highway officials, to build a similar structure today would cost between $2 and $3 million.

The current bridge will undoubtedly be closed on occasion and inconveniences can be expected. Consider, however, that it has been closed for all of several minutes in the 10 years since it was reconstructed; and that closure was basically due to miscommunication between agencies during the January 1997 flood.

But, what if a chemical spill closes the bridge while a fire is raging in the hills to the south while it is too windy or stormy to fly in emergency supplies and there just is no way out but to walk/swim across the river? Or terrorists of one type or another determine to block/destroy the bridge while they create havoc on the other side?

Come to think of it, maybe we need a third bridge!

* Does Dayton need the Comstock Historic District?

A very important workshop meeting of the Comstock Historic District Commission is scheduled for March 4 at 1 p.m. at the Dayton Museum. It is imperative for those residents interested in the preservation of Dayton's heritage to attend this special gathering. It is also important that those who have concerns with the guidelines and operating policies of the commission to be present.

There is a petition being circulated by some residents asking for Dayton to be taken out of the Comstock Historic District. For those who are considering signing onto this idea, this meeting will offer an opportunity to become better informed as to why, despite often costly and bothersome restrictions, being included in such a district has its benefits.

I, for one, do not wish to see any more of Dayton's precious past lost to carelessness, greed or ignorance. If we lose the enforcement powers inherent in being an historic district, that is just what will happen.

* One last question: How many times may an elected official change his vote on an issue before it can be considered a comical display of political dodge ball?

When a county commissioner nervously switched his vote twice within minutes at a recent meeting it brought laughs to all. I don't know whether the laughter was in humor or disgust at this thinly veiled attempt to get an obviously stressful decision registered in the most politically beneficial column. It was, however, a mindful illustration of the deceptive political games that are repeatedly played upon a non-attentive and uninformed public by elected officials at all levels.

We have come to expect it. We have come to accept it. And, we have come to laugh at it.

Think about it.


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