Driving up Clear Creek Road, riddled with potholes, is an experience that falls short of peaceful.
The narrow, winding road is a mess bordering on a safety hazard, residents said. The road has potholes up to 16 feet in length and many sections of the road are "alligatored out." In other words, the road is breaking up because water has eroded the asphalt. Residents say dodging potholes can sometimes mean risking their lives.
Workers from Carson City's street department are working on the road this week, doing about $30,000 worth of emergency repairs before winter wreaks more havoc on the road.
"It's pretty bad, and it needs repair," said Traffic Controller Tom De Rosa. "A lot of the people are really ecstatic we're doing this.
Deputy Street Operations Chief Marnell Heinz said the repairs were more than "pothole patrol." Workers are repaving sections that are badly worn and are digging ditches along the edge of the road to help keep water from the road.
Clear Creek Road residents Dixie Busch and Pat Riggs said they were thrilled that something was finally being done for the weathered road.
"We're extremely pleased," Busch said. "That road was getting very dangerous and could have been very serious in the winter. The road is so bad, we were afraid it wouldn't make it through the winter."
Although Carson City doesn't own the road and is not responsible for its maintenance, Carson City Manager John Berkich said the city decided to take a leadership role until details of the road's future can be resolved. With public safety and access for emergency vehicles at stake, it seemed prudent for the city to do something.
"We know we're not responsible for it, but it's the morally right thing to do," Mayor Ray Masayko agreed. "We have an interest in serving the residents out there."
Residents who live on Clear Creek Road have been pleading for help to fix the road for years. Clear Creek Road, the only public access road to the state-run Clear Creek Youth Camp facility, winds through both Carson City and Douglas County and has had little maintenance since the Nevada Department of Transportation abandoned the road in 1957. This left the road almost entirely to the care of private property owners in the canyon.
Carson supervisors agreed in July to accept the road for future maintenance in concept only. City officials estimate the road would cost $140,000 to bring to an acceptable level and $30,000 a year for maintenance after that.
Berkich said Douglas County commissioners are expected to kick in $15,000 to help fund the emergency repairs. The commissioners will consider lending help to the road's maintenance Nov. 18.
Berkich said an agreement is being ironed out between the city, Douglas County and NDOT to decide who will pay what for the road's final upgrade and maintenance
"All the players need to be a part of the solution," Berkich said. "We're trying to move this along with all the haste we can. It's a sticky, tough issue, but we finally got everyone to the table."