For the week of August 26 thru September 1, 1998  

Mountain of problems cited at Glendale hill

Express Staff Writer

Glendale Road drivers of private cars and school buses alike say they have had enough of the roller-coaster ride their daily travels present.

Monday, residents joined the Blaine County School District to beg for Blaine County Commissioners’ aid with the road southwest of Bellevue.

Their request was to little avail that day, as the commissioners delayed making a decision in order to examine various long- and short-term solutions.

A project to pave a one-mile section of the road is underway at the moment, but the residents who spoke said that stretch had very little to do with the problem at hand.

The problem is the hill graded at what engineer and resident Philip Puchner said was 18 percent; county roads standards dictate grades closer to 8 percent, he said.

In the winter of 1997, a Blaine County school bus slid off Glendale Road into a ditch after it had difficulty traversing the hill.

The hill rises about four miles west of the State Highway 75 intersection, and when it snows or rains, major drainage problems turn Glendale to a one-lane mucky slide, landowner Cindy Hinojosa said.

After the meeting, Hinojosa, who led the residents’ charge by coming to the meeting armed with a 51-signature petition, expressed her disappointment about what she interpreted as the commissioners’ lack of interest.

"We have all the legal rights in the world," she said. "It’s a dangerous, dangerous spot.

"In the end, I feel [the county] is just going to put gravel on the hill and put us on the back burner."

Superintendent of Schools Phil Homer stated his concern about the safety of children using the bus route over the hill.

Others living on the road described harrowing travel conditions.

Mike Hinojosa said he lost control of his four-wheel-drive truck on the tricky hill one winter.

"It’s just a matter of time, I feel, until there will be an accident," Hinojosa said, adding he does not let his kids ride the bus to school on that road when he feels conditions are hazardous.

"It’s your absolute responsibility to the children of this county to look at that hill because it’s very, very dangerous," he said to the commissioners.

About a half-dozen others echoed his sentiments. Some added their frustration that previous meetings with the county over the years have proved fairly fruitless.

A few Glendale residents claimed the county promised to take a look at the road many years ago, before many of the current members’ tenure.

"Everything these ladies and gentlemen said is true," Dale Shappee of the Blaine County Road and Bridge Department said.

Shappee explained several avenues the county could pursue apart from this summer’s limited paving work.

Laying "two-inch" gravel on the hill is a short-term solution and could run the county less than a $6,000 credit it holds with a business in the area, he said.

Some signs warning travelers of road dangers are another short term fix that Shappee suggested.

He said that to erase the larger problems of dangerous hills and a narrow, uneven road, many right-of-way easements would need to be acquired for road widening. Two poorly located power poles should be moved, Shappee added.

Cutting the most problematic hill down is another option, albeit a costly one.

"Really, the Blaine County Commissioners should look closely at moving the hill," Hinojosa said. "That is the solution."

Shappee couldn’t guess at the total price for such an undertaking, but said manpower and equipment alone could run up a $20,000 bill for the county.

"It’s a little bigger project than it looks, but that doesn’t mean we won’t start looking at it," Commissioner Len Harlig said. "We have 425 miles of road to look after in this county. We can’t get to them all instantaneously."

Commissioner Dennis Wright said the matter does deserve some examination, but not the "feeding frenzy" created at the meeting.

"We’ll look at what can be done with the county engineer, and we’ll [probably] gravel the hill," Wright said.


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