Six Mile Canyon closed indefinitely
Appeal Staff Writer
Six Mile Canyon Road in Storey County, closed Saturday after flooding caused it to collapse in six places, will remain closed for one to three months.
The road is a major route for Dayton residents who commute to Reno and for Virginia City residents who shop at Smith’s Market in Dayton.
“I’m not opening it half-assed,” said Rich Bacus, Storey County Public Works director. “When I open it, it’s going to be completely fixed. I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Flooding and heavy rain caused culverts to be plugged by debris, leading to some of the blacktop to collapse, Bacus said. “It’s impassable now.”
A 44-year-old Dayton man suffered minor injuries Saturday night when he drove his 1993 Chevrolet pickup truck around the road-closed barrier, the asphalt gave out and his truck overturned in a culvert.
Storey County Sheriff Jim Miller said the man was charged with several misdemeanors, including suspicion of driving under the influence, suspicion of driving without insurance and suspicion of driving on a closed road. He was first taken to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries, then to the county jail. He was later released on his own recognizance.
Gov. Kenny Guinn on Tuesday declared Storey County a disaster area along with Lyon, Douglas and Washoe counties. Carson City was declared a disaster area on Saturday.
Bacus said the length of closure depends on the weather and the amount of other duties the three-man public works crew has.
“With the weather, we can’t do anything until it dries out,” he said. “We’re going to take care of the town first.”
Bacus said the town’s three-man road crew faced continued snow removal, a plugged sewer, a leak, a damaged fire hydrant, washed-out roads and culverts in the Virginia City Highlands and cleanup from flooding in Lockwood, near Interstate 80.
Highway 342, which runs between Virginia City and Silver City, is closed due to a 30-foot sinkhole caused by the heavy rain and snow. The highway is expected to be repaired by Friday.
Bacus said the county had applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and added that FEMA officials were scheduled to visit the area next week.
“You can’t do anything now with all the mud,” he added. “It’s going to be awhile until we can get there and work on it.”
He said the damage stretched from the treatment plant near R Street in Virginia City to the entrance to a mine about five miles down Six Mile Canyon Road.
Storey County Commissioner Greg “Bum” Hess said repair of the road could cost the county up to $500,000.
“We’re making Six Mile a priority because of our residents down there and the school buses,” he said. “But we only have a three-man crew, and our first priority is the road to Silver City.”
He said a study done in 2002 showed that about 1,100 cars use the road, one way, every day and estimated that about 2,500 cars use it now, going both ways between Dayton and Reno.
“We’re being conservative saying 2,500,” he said.
Hess has supported installing a toll gate at the bottom of Six Mile Canyon and charging commuters for using the county-maintained road.
“We have very few residents that use it,” he said. “I haven’t met many county residents against the idea.”
He added that he did not believe the damage to the road would affect the toll gate effort one way or the other.
“This is something that is not anticipated,” he said. “You can’t plan for a disaster like this and safety has to be first.”
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