Lyon drivers struggle with ruts; county struggles with costs
Appeal Staff Writer
The road less traveled in Lyon County is probably also the road least often maintained by county workers.
Lyon County has 535.47 miles of county-maintained roads in its inventory, and 335 miles that are not maintained. The list is updated every six months. Some roads drop off, some are added, and sometimes the list stays the same, said Gary Fried, Lyon County Road Division manager.
The number of unmaintained roads in this growing county has been a source of frustration to some residents of Lyon County communities, though others don’t seem to mind.
Teresa Hilliard, who lives on Elm Street in Silver Springs, said the county recently graded her gravel road, but she gave credit to a neighbor’s persistent complaints.
“Our road is better now because we had a neighbor who was on them and on them and on them,” she said. “So they graded it about a year ago. Before, it was scary. It’s all rutted again now, but it’s better than it was before.”
Hilliard said on some Silver Springs roads, signs saying they aren’t maintained can’t be seen until a driver has been on the road.
“Sometimes you’re already on a road before you see the sign that says, ‘This road is not maintained.’ “
Hilliard said she likes the gravel road because it deters people from driving down Elm.
“The only bad thing is the kids on off-road vehicles flying by at 60 mph,” she said.
Fred Atkinson of Dayton lives on paved Imperial Road. He said the roads around his home are getting better.
“They just did an overlay with the grindings off Highway 50 on a lot of the side streets,” he said. Atkinson said that had the workers compacted the roads better, there would be no washboard effect.
“Everyone is happier, even though they’re washboard, because we don’t have the dust,” he said. “They probably need to do more as far as cleaning up the side roads. But grading-wise, in our area they’re doing a pretty good job.”
Atkinson, who is involved with Lyon County Search and Rescue, said some back roads need more work, such as the road leading to Mount Como.
“That thing is terrible,” he said. “It’s almost to the point where they ought to close it because it’s such a hazard. There’s a lot of mini Grand Canyons in the middle of that road.”
Fried said he has no authority to add roads to the maintenance list.
“I just create a list and take it to the commissioners every six months,” he said. “The commissioners make the decisions.”
Fried said if a road is on the county list, it might not be a priority because the costs of maintaining roads has risen with the price of oil.
“If I had my way, I’d add them all on, but the cost for construction is dragging it down,” he said. “Costs have gone up, and will go up another 20 percent next year.”
But Bob Elston of Silver City, who said the county has done very little repair on that town’s county-maintained streets, rejected the oil cost argument.
“They quit doing it a long time before the costs of oil got high,” he said. “High Street gets graded, but it used to be paved, at least the part by the park. They haven’t done any work on it for years and now it’s just a big mess of potholes.”
Fried said to meet the criteria to be on the county-maintained list, a road has to have been constructed to current standards and the county must own the right-of-way. After that, it all depends on if it is a local or collector road, the number of homes on it and if it is used by more people. He admitted Silver City, one of Lyon Counties smallest communities, didn’t get much attention.
Of the Lyon County road inventory, the community with the most miles of county-maintained roads is Mason Valley, with 187.43 miles.
The community with the largest number of unmaintained roads was Silver Springs, with 152.94 miles. Silver City has the fewest miles of county-maintained roads, with Mason Township having the fewest unmaintained miles.
Lyon County roads include asphalt, chip-seal, gravel and dirt roads.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111, ext. 351.