After the council meeting, a team comprised of Dave Vaughn, assistant manager of the Grand County Road Department, Castle Valley Road Manager Greg Halliday, Castle Valley Mayor Dave Erley and Merrill Brady, a retired contractor and a nearby resident of the site, inspected the culvert. They determined that the existing culvert is not an immediate concern, but it has been compromised and probably should be replaced within the next four years or so.
Because of this recent development, town officials are now in the very early stages of putting together a plan to replace the current culvert, which like most culverts is near the end of its life span. Mayor Erley said recently that the crossing over Castle Creek is not in imminent danger and that gives the town time to develop a four-year plan to create an account to save money for the replacement and possibly apply for a grant from the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB).
Mayor Erley’s discussions with engineers this week indicated that a rough ball park estimate for a replacement culvert was around $200,000 for a 10- by 20-foot concrete box culvert. Another option is about $50,000 for two ten-foot galvanized metal culverts similar to the one that is in the creek presently. There is also an option of applying a concrete floor to the existing culvert, but that option would decrease the size and would only create a Band-Aid effect, according to engineers.
A drainage study that was commissioned by the town in September 1988 suggested that another 10-foot culvert be installed next to the present culvert to handle the volume of water that could be generated by a catastrophic flood. That recommendation was not implemented by the town at that time, probably because of the cost involved.
This is not the community’s first involvement with that creek crossing. Early residents of the Castle Valley River Ranchos had to travel down into the creek on Castle Valley Drive, which was shaped like a horseshoe as it meandered parallel with the creek, over it and back up the other side. I don’t remember exactly how large the culvert was, but it couldn’t have been much over 18 inches or maybe two feet and washed out frequently.
Snow was never removed from the road back then, which created problems getting in and out of the valley. The spring thaw was especially troublesome as people tried to navigate the dense mud. Sometimes that crossing turned into a parking lot until the mud froze enough to allow people to drive out the next morning. I used to meet the school bus there and drive the kids home in my chained-up pickup truck while Richard Stucki put chains on the bus to get the rest of the way home.
In 1979, the Castle Valley Property Owners Association negotiated a trade with Merrill Brady to swap land and allow Castle Valley Drive to be realigned at a straighter angle over the creek. At that time, the town also ordered a large culvert to be placed in the creek. On May 31, 1979, “Castle Valley Comments” reported that “the culvert for the Castle Creek crossing arrived Tuesday morning, May 29. [POA board member] Fred Johnson indicated that assembly of the culvert would start as soon as possible.”
The following week, this column reported that the men of the valley were busy assembling the new culvert. “Nearly completed, it stands 10 feet tall and measures 60 feet long. Some of the men working on the project in the evenings were Fred Johnson, Merrill Brady, Don Pueblo, Jim Oakden, Ron Young, Mike Ricketts, Bob Hanson, Gil Haegele, Joe Jarman, Walt Cluff, Jack Cluff and myself.
The July 5, 1979 installment of “Castle Valley Comments” ran a picture of the culvert being installed by the Grand County Road Department. The caption read: “The 10- by 65-foot culvert was being installed this week in Castle Valley by county crews. High winds had rolled the structure some 75 feet from its original installation site, and it had to be moved back into position before work proceeded.”
So it seems that after 34 years the old culvert has run its course and will have to be replaced. Just like last time, the new one will be a vast improvement over the previous one and it will serve the community for longer than most of the residents will be around to know.
Castle Valley residents have always had opportunities to increase their medical knowledge with classes and help their neighbors in time of need. On May 31, 1979, “Castle Valley Comments” reported that Castle Valley Fire Chief Dave Durrant was offering an advanced first aid class for valley residents. “It will be a 56-hour course and participants will receive a certificate upon completion,” the column reported.
Members of the community have another opportunity next month to be part of an emergency medical responder class to be held at the Town Hall. They can call me to sign up at 435-259-8588 or call the class coordinator Paula Dunham, assistant director of Grand County Emergency Medical Services at 435-259-8901. Instead of costing $5, the fee is now $338, with Grand County EMS picking up a lot of the cost. During the last town council meeting, the council voted to pay for up to 10 people who sign up for the class. But time is running out.