Castle Valley Comments
June 19, 2014
by Ron Drake
Jun 19, 2014 | 563 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Castle Valley Fire Department received a fire page late Saturday evening to assist on a fire at mile marker 13 on state Route 128. A Moab man who was driving the road noticed the fire and reported it to the Grand County Sheriff’s dispatch as soon as he could get cell phone service. When the first Castle Valley fire unit arrived on scene a quarter of an acre was burning on the north side of the highway, with four- to five-foot flames burning in the brush and grass on the steep hillside near the Colorado River.

Two more brush trucks from the fire department arrived, as well as two units from the Bureau of Land Management and the Grand County Fire Warden. The BLM units secured the perimeter of the fire and completed the assignment sometime during the early morning hours of Sunday, June 15. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined according to those who investigated the scene that night and the following day.

***

And speaking of the Castle Valley Fire Department and their activities in the valley, they have been seen around the valley on Tuesday evenings doing hands-on practice with the fire apparatus and equipment as they hone their firefighting skills.

Last Tuesday, they were putting out a simulated fire on Chamisa Lane in a dry field and during strong winds that evening and other evenings they were seen at other locations around the valley. The firefighters will be at other locations around the valley during the summer months in an effort to stay ready for the fire season.

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Fifteen years ago this week, the Castle Valley Planning and Zoning Commission presented the town council with a draft of a letter regarding safety on SR 128. The letter was a result of a request from the Grand County Commission, which wanted a list of what was needed to improve the road. It was felt that a letter from the town council would carry additional weight in the presentation to the Utah Department of Transportation. Because of the county commission’s concern about traffic safety on U.S. 191 and SR 128, the county approached the Castle Valley Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended supporting safety requests to UDOT, so the planning commission drafted a letter for approval by the town council.

Accompanying the letter was a map of the first 16 miles of SR 128 detailing the location and severity of reported accidents, compiled from UDOT records during the previous four years. During that time period, 60 accidents were reported along the 16-mile stretch between U.S. 191 and the turn-off to Castle Valley. There were very few fatal wrecks – most were fairly minor and some involved animals, mostly deer. The report said there was a definite pattern, and pointed out that most of the trouble was where people turn off to campgrounds. For this reason, the letter suggested passing lanes be constructed where there was room.

The letter stated that the road was “simply too narrow for the heavy traffic it now carries. Most state maps are now printed indicating a scenic drive along SR 128. We need to see larger shoulders the entire length of this road. Passing lanes where there is room and a need for additional signage.

“Most visitors traveling the river road are traveling it for the first time and need to stop for sightseeing and pictures. The need is strong for well-marked and designated pull-outs to accommodate them safely.”

The issue of heavy bicycle use along the road was also addressed in the document. It read: “Grand County is a world-wide destination location for outdoor enthusiasts. Moab is known as the mountain bike mecca of the world. One of the popular rides is called Porcupine Rim Trail. That trail ends on [SR] 128 at mile post 3. The Town of Castle Valley would like the county and state to know that we are in full support of a bicycle path (paved and separated from the highway) from the Castle Valley turn-off to Moab.”

During the last 15 years, the “heavy traffic” has only increased along that route, and a few of the suggested changes were implemented, including the expensive bike path along most of the first three miles of SR 128.

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