Johnson Lane gravel pit back to the drawing board |

Johnson Lane gravel pit back to the drawing board

by John Hefner
The Painted Mine Gravel Pit was quiet last week.
Kurt Hildebrand

Here is an update on the Painted Rock Gravel Pit. I have been receiving emails from a resident named A.J. who has been doing a phenomenal job at keeping the pressure on Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, the county and Knox Excavation. A.J. was able to meet with Rep. Mark Amodei. Amodei has been instrumental in getting BIA to issue a cease operations order to Knox Construction until the process is fully completed. As you know Knox began moving earth as early as July. Apparently, they felt it was a lock and they would be operating a full gravel pit pretty soon.

In a letter to the BIA, Amodei asked BIA to recognize that BLM and the County are cooperating agencies. As cooperating agencies are needed to contribute to the decision-making process. BLM had issued a permit to Knox for the temporary improvement of Sunrise Pass road which is BLM property. Knox has been ordered to cease operations until the assessment is complete.

The BIA received 170 responses during the comment period which ran from Aug. 22 to Sept. 21. Responses received after the cutoff also were included. Representatives for Knox now have a period to respond to each of the comments with their mitigation measures to alleviate resident concerns. The BIA has directed the environmental assessment be updated, “to reflect the scope of the issues.” Once that is completed there will be another 30-day period for the public to respond to the mitigation measures. BIA will publish another notice in The Record-Courier and A.J. has assured those interested (on his contact list) that he will also put out the information. You can reach A.J. at 775-392-0384 or his email: I will keep you informed as well.

I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the county asking for copies of the road engineering plans with an engineer’s stamp citing that Johnson Lane meets the requirements for traffic of heavy trucks. County attorneys did a great job responding timely but what was provided was a geotechnical inspection from 2010 when the water line was brought up for the new water tanks at upper Johnson Lane. That study showed that the thickness varied from 6-8.5 inches. In fact, it states “Only two layers of asphalt were measured from Heybourne Road to the approximate location of Business Parkway. The first overlay was placed over a pavement reinforcement layer. The bottom layer of asphalt concrete was “stripped” or lacking cohesion to the oil binder.” The report did not specifically address heavy truck loads and the attorney pointed me to the AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures. As I read that guide it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the current pavement does not meet any standard. The guide calls for at least 10 inches of asphalt with a 6-inch base. If there are any road experts out there, I would appreciate it if you would contact me.

In addition to concerns that the pavement will not hold up to the daily traffic of 85 full trucks (up to 80,000 pounds each) and 85 empty trucks, there are serious concerns regarding safety along Johnson Lane. There is a variety of users on this route. Those users range from Heavy Trucks, commuter vehicles, ATV’s and dirt bikes, horse riders, pedestrian’s, school busses and school children waiting at the bus stop. This mix of users significantly raises the level of risk for those vulnerable users. Moreover, these trucks may have to stop for car traffic waiting to turn off of Johnson Lane. While there are acceleration lanes these trucks are slow to get up to highway speeds. The resulting bottle neck will create unsafe conditions and the results will be more traffic going around the bottle neck onto the side streets and potentially using Stephanie as an alternate route. Speeding is already an issue in our community and this is going to be a step in the wrong direction.

I ask that you please get involved with this very important issue in our community. It won’t take much of your time. We just need you to respond when then next comment period opens. We need to show how this will negatively affect our neighborhood. The BIA relates the number of responses to the urgency of the issues. We need to get a better response rate since 170 out of 5000 plus residents is not a very high response rate.

Here is some better news! Mark your calendars for Oct. 31. Tom Finch is organizing a neighborhood wide Art and Craft drive around show. The concept is participants will set up in their or perhaps a neighbor’s driveway. Consumers would use a prepared map which indicates the location for participants and drive from location to location in the search of treasures. The proposed hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To participate, contact Tom Finch at Naturally, weather will have something to say about this event as well so let’s pray for a warm day. Let’s support our local crafters remember many of them depended on the Candy Dance to fund their crafts. Since that was cancelled, they need your support.

Finally, last journal I mentioned Gus’s Corner at the Dog Park. Turns out that wasn’t such a fantastic idea. Scott Morgan from the Parks Department confirmed that staff contacted a veterinarian. The vet recommended that sharing of dog toys not be done. Apparently, there is a high risk of Parvo or other disease transmission between our best friends. Certainly, our pet’s health is our first concern and it is the Parks Departments concern as well. Not all ideas are good ideas so the basket and bucket have been removed. I am a bit bummed but I agree with the decision.