A headache for Dayton commuters | NevadaAppeal.com

A headache for Dayton commuters

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
photos by BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Small rocks and large boulders slid onto Six Mile Canyon Road during mudslides Saturday.

Steve Dalton travels from his Dayton home daily to his teaching job at Reno High School.

He said the best way to get to work is over the mountain, up Six Mile Canyon Road to Highway 341, then down to Reno.

But the closure of Six Mile Canyon Road has added 20 minutes to his commute time every day, going by way of Carson City.

“It’s going to make my drive anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes longer each day in the car,” he said. “It also increases the traffic going into Carson City on Highway 50.”

He said to go by way of Fernley would take him an hour and 15 minutes.

Six Mile Canyon road was closed on Saturday, and Storey County officials have said it will take at least one and possibly three months to repair.

“The road will open right about the time school is ready to end,” Dalton said.

The winding mountain road stretching from Highway 50 in Dayton to Highway 341 in Virginia City was heavily damaged by last weekend’s flooding.

The asphalt has given way in at least five spots, and many other areas are strewn with mud, rocks, boulders and tree branches.

At the opening to the Alhambra mine, about three miles north from Highway 50, several large boulders that once blocked access to the mine were pushed across the road and covered with dirt.

Log jams line the drainage ditch along the road. A pipe that went under the asphalt was pushed about 50 feet further down the ditch.

A pickup that drove on the closed road Saturday is still lying on its side, after the asphalt gave way under it.

Storey County Commissioner Greg “Bum” Hess has estimated 2,500 drivers use Six Mile Canyon daily.

But Lyon County Commissioner Bob Milz, who represents Dayton, said he didn’t think the closure of the road would affect many people.

“I don’t know how many Lyon County people go up there,” he said. “But they’re going to have to live with it. Nature has spoken.”

Milz said Dayton commuters can still go through Virginia City via 341.

Dalton said he was angered when he read that Storey County officials said it would take one to three months to repair the road because they had more pressing needs and only a three-man road crew.

“It is a commuter road. I don’t care how much they try to pretend that it isn’t,” Dalton said. “When we bought our houses, we didn’t buy with the thought of driving through Carson. We bought our houses after we found a shortcut to Reno.”

He added that Storey County shouldn’t have to shoulder the entire burden of maintaining Six Mile Canyon Road.

“I’d like to see Lyon County get involved in this, and Washoe County also reaps benefits form that road,” he said. “Something needs to be done on a regional basis. It directly impacts the district.”

Ray Fierro, a Dayton resident who serves on the Lyon County Planning Commission, uses Six Mile Canyon Road about twice a week to get to Reno. He calls the closure “a big inconvenience” to go around through Carson City.

“I find it safer than going through Washoe Valley, because of the winds that go through there,” he said. “People drive too fast when it’s snowing. I’d rather take my chances on Geiger Grade.”

Fierro said the Carson City detour, using Arrowhead Road to avoid the central city, adds about 10 or 15 miles to the drive.

For Jo Ellen Fonzo, a resident of the Mark Twain Estates, the headache is worse than the time element.

“It’s a problem getting into the traffic on Highway 50 because (other drivers) don’t let you in,” she said. “It’s only 10 minutes longer going around, but it’s a hassle because of all those little speedos out there.”

Fonzo, bar manager at the Mark Twain Saloon and Casino in Virginia City, regularly used Six Mile Canyon Road. She is now using Highway 341.

“Gold Hill is a problem with the sinkhole, but they have the truck route plowed so beautifully,” she said. “But going home, making a left on 341 is almost impossible. You’re going to get killed there.”

— Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.