Muddy situation

Old Sundance Road residents request maintenance for “impassable” road

By Sarah Pridgeon

Residents of Old Sundance Road have appealed to the county commissioners to gravel a section of the road they described as near impassable. While one section of the road, near Beaver Creek, was addressed last summer, the group expressed concern that the remaining portion is becoming inaccessible to emergency vehicles and may soon cause an accident.

Road & Bridge Foreman Morgan Ellsbury explained that the section is on his plan for the coming budget year but that, like several other roads in similar condition, it will need to be done dependent on his schedule and available funds.

Resident Warren Long made the appeal, telling the commissioners of his concern that most people who live in that area are senior citizens and mud or snow would make it very difficult for an ambulance to reach someone in a medical emergency. Furthermore, he said, if a fire should start near exit 178 at Beaver Creek, evacuees would need to leave eastwards along that road and there would be potential for one or more vehicle to become stuck.

(Jeff Moberg photo) During their last meeting, the Crook County Commissioners were asked to improve conditions on Old Sundance Road west of town by a group of homeowners along the route. Residents argued that the current state of the road presents a safety hazard and could impact emergency access.
(Jeff Moberg photo) During their last meeting, the Crook County Commissioners were asked to improve conditions on Old Sundance Road west of town by a group of homeowners along the route.
Residents argued that the current state of the road presents a safety hazard and could impact emergency access.

UPS now refuses to come down the road in snow or mud conditions, he continued, and two years ago were forced to send an 18-wheeler wrecker truck to retrieve a UPS van that became stuck. Two young men also recently had issues sliding backwards down the incline, Long said, and eventually went over the hill, through the fence and halfway into a field as their vehicle became “uncontrollable”, which could have been a more serious accident.

Resident Karen Patterson added that the road has not been graveled since 1986 and, since that time, she and husband Larry have appealed “a dozen times” to the county commission for the road to be repaired.

According to residents, the road no longer has a crown, has high spots in the center and at the sides and there are two spots of standing water that does not drain. The problem becomes incrementally worse, said Long, because vehicles attempting to get through kick up so much mud.

The group requested that the section between the road that was maintained last summer and the Bearlodge Subdivision be addressed, a section around two or three miles long. Commissioner Kelly Dennis explained that the reason that the Pattersons’ appeals have been unsuccessful is probably that there is “never enough money to go around” for roads and the commission has historically prioritized according to traffic counts.

Ellsbury stated that the second phase of the road is already on his plan for the budget year but that, as the budget is not finalized, he had not wanted to offer a guarantee. The work would be done during the budget year, which runs from July 2018 to July 2019.