View Poll Results: Should HitRR be paved?

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  • HitRR should be paved

    21 42.86%
  • HitRR should NOT be paved

    22 44.90%
  • I'm not sure if HitRR should be paved.

    6 12.24%
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Thread: American Canyoneers - Hole in the Rock Road

  1. #1

    American Canyoneers - Hole in the Rock Road

    To pave or not pave the Hole in the Rock Road... that is the question....

    So this concerns me greatly.... American Canyoneers has taken a stance on an access issue with almost ZERO input for their membership and with almost ZERO research on what the impacts will be. I believe this is a knee jerk reaction.


    You can read the details here:
    http://www.americancanyoneers.org/gs...e-study-hitrr/


    But bottom line American Canyoneers is advocating that the Hole in the Rock Road not be paved.


    I don't know if paving the road is a good or bad idea, I'd really need more information to establish a sound conclusion.

    Here are a couple of quick thoughts... a county normally paves a road when it makes sense economically. In other words, because of higher traffic there is a point in time where it is cheaper to pave the road than it is to maintain a gravel/dirt road. Is easier access a bad thing? If so, bad for who? Certainly not the county who would be responsible for the road.... If limiting access is your goal shouldn't you be advocating for the road to no longer be maintained at all? After a few large storms the road would soon turn into a 4x4 road and greatly limit access....


    I'd really be interested in seeing more research and facts from both sides before jumping to a conclusion.... Why does the county want to pave the road? What is the long term projection for the area? Will paving the road actually impact visitation? If so, how much? Is the long term effect going to help or hurt canyoneering? I really hate to see a national access organization jump to a conclusion without some facts, figures and muscle to back up their stance, not to mention a consensus from their membership.... anyhoo... food for thought....

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  3. #2
    This is where my opinion will diverge from some other wilderness advocates (of which I am one) and the like.

    I spent much of my life as a highway engineer. Paved roads are actually more environmentally friendly in most ways than are gravel roads. Dust, mag, runoff, etc. are all environmental concerns with gravel roads, much more so than with paved roads. This is even more true with high traffic gravel roads (and at least the northern half of the HITRR qualifies).

    It will bring probably more visitation though.

    My own opinion:

    Let them pave the road; protect the roadless areas. My opinion is also applicable for the Notom-Bullfrog Road and the Burr Trail as well. It's the wilderness that needs protecting (including ones from phoney road claims, of which are common from the counties, but the HITRR is not one of them). The high traffic gravel roads don't need protecting and paving them actually might be more environmentally friendly in many ways. The focus should be protecting the wild areas.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  4. #3

  5. #4
    I'd say paving HITRR an unfeasible idea for the following reasons:

    1. HITRR is LONG, about 55 miles. It would be extremely expensive to pave a road that long. Zion NP contains fewer miles of pavement, for perspective.
    2. Maintaining the road would also be very expensive, especially towards Lake Powell, where washes would/do routinely destroy the road.
    3. The sand in that area is loose, and would blow across the road, covering it in many places. What is the point of building a $20M road if it is covered with sand?

    So, 9 out of 10 'can we' problems are answered with one word - 'Money'. Practicality issues and environmental impacts aside, there is no way that paving the road is more cost-effective than grating it. I doubt the comparison is even close (but would love to see the numbers if anyone has them).
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  7. #5
    Practicality issues and environmental impacts aside, there is no way that grating the road will be less cost-effective than paving it.
    I respectfully disagree and I have worked in roadway engineering for 1/3 of my life.

    Maintaining the road would also be very expensive, especially towards Lake Powell, where washes would/do routinely destroy the road.
    Paved roads need much less maintenance than gravel roads. The maintenance they need is more expensive, but they need it a lot less times.

    I do not know the cost factor on this particular road, but given the traffic it receives, I don't think it is accurate to say that there is no way that it would be more cost effective to keep it gravel. That part would have to be calculated out.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

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  9. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott P View Post
    I spent much of my life as a highway engineer. Paved roads are actually more environmentally friendly in most ways than are gravel roads.
    Scott, thanks for the input. It's great to have a highway engineer on Bogley that can answer some of our questions.

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  11. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Slot Machine View Post
    So, 9 out of 10 'can we' problems are answered with one word - 'Money'.
    As a structural engineer who has design numerous bridges I can tell you this.... counties usually don't sink money into projects that don't make economical sense. I assume the reason paving the road is under discussion is because maintaining a gravel road is becoming expensive and paving it makes more sense to the county coffers.

    My question would be why does paving the road make sense to the county? Because maintaining the gravel road is becoming to expensive? Or perhaps they hope to increase tourism? Or some other reason or combination of reasons?


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  13. #8
    Pave it. I shook my spoiler off the last time i did this road and we swore we would never come back due to the terrible washer board.

  14. #9
    counties usually don't sink money into projects that don't make economical sense. I assume the reason paving the road is under discussion is because maintaining a gravel road is becoming expensive and paving it makes more sense to the county coffers.
    Yes, but I'm sure that you know that a large percentage of most county roads are paid for by federal funds.

    For those that don't know (I'm sure Shane already does), US, state, and county highways roads don't mean that they are paid for by the county, state, etc. They simply mean that a US highway goes through several states, a State highway stays within a State, usually between different counties (there are a few exceptions), and a county road is within a single county. All have a large percentage paid for by Federal funds and the states/counties are given discretion on which roads to spend the money on.

    Sometimes counties (Uintah County in Utah is one of them) have been caught claiming false roads or false paved roads (claiming that a road was paved, when it was really gravel) in order to get more Federal funds. One article (State governments warned counties to use caution after this came out):

    http://highway-robbery.org/documents...rib_3-8-05.pdf

    Claiming false roads isn't only to keep out wilderness, but is also because counties get money for them. Of course when caught (which doesn't happen often, partially because it is more or less on the honor system), they usually claim an "honest mistake" or "clerical error".

    My question would be why does paving the road make sense to the county? Because maintaining the gravel road is becoming to expensive? Or perhaps they hope to increase tourism? Or some other reason or combination of reasons?
    It makes sense when the county either doesn't have to pay for much of it (the state and Feds paying for much of it) or when it brings them money. In the county's defense, I would bet that most of the traffic on that road is from non-residents of the county.

    Personally, I don't have any problem at all with counties making money of tourism as long as it is done responsibly and the wildlands are protected. In fact, at least in some cases making money of tourism (I'd bet a large percentage of traffic on the HITRR is from hikers and backpackers) gives a viable alternative for rural areas to make money without tearing up the land.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

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  16. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott P View Post
    I respectfully disagree and I have worked in roadway engineering for 1/3 of my life.

    Paved roads need much less maintenance than gravel roads. The maintenance they need is more expensive, but they need it a lot less times.

    I do not know the cost factor on this particular road, but given the traffic it receives, I don't think it is accurate to say that there is no way that it would be more cost effective to keep it gravel. That part would have to be calculated out.
    Really? (honestly surprised, not mocking) Very interesting! Huh... my opinion was based mostly on assumptions. If the above is true, then of course it should be paved.

    Using my best estimate from a 2 minute Google search, I figure 55 miles of 2 lane road would cost $16.5M ($300,000 per mile). Does this sound reasonable Scott? How much would it cost to grade the road once? How often is this done on HITTR? 4 times a year? More?

    Thanks for the educated responses Ice and Scott! (still have not submitted my vote)
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  17. #11
    Using my best estimate from a 2 minute Google search, I figure 55 miles of 2 lane road would cost $16.5M ($300,000 per mile).
    It depends on many factors; i.e. thickness of pavement, type of pavement, thickness of road base, width of road, distance from batch plant, expected weather conditions, traffic control, etc. Pavement is nothing but oil and rock with a few minor additives. What's the price of oil going to do (this makes a huge difference)? Rock? It is actually fairly complicated to figure out.

    As a very, very rough estimate use $75 per ton of asphalt pavement (in place). The paving width would probably be ~24 feet. Times this by the length for area.

    One ton of asphalt = ~110 lbs per inch thickness per yard of area.

    Road base would probably be 16" thick. 165 PCF is the average density and the cost per ton is ~$21. Shouldering would cost about the same per ton (and be the same density) and would be a right triangle of opposite = 24" and adjacent is the thickness of the pavement. I have no idea what they would do for traffic control out there. Same with road signage, cattleguards, pullouts, etc. You would have to know the number of those. What type of asphalt? Are any detours needed? How many and how long?

    Anyway, as a very rough (and I do mean rough), plug in the above calculations and multiply the total result of asphalt and roadbase by 1.75.

    Take that with a giant chuck of salt though. If I could come up with an accurate number just by very rough estimating as above (or from Google), I'd be a lot richer than I am now. And a lot of engineers and cost estimators would be out of jobs.

    Also, there are two different cost to consider. Are we talking cost to the Road Department or cost to the public? Even if the cost to the Road Department is higher in the long run, it could still be less for the general public. Gravel roads cost more to drive on for vehicle owners to drive on than do paved roads. Rough roads are much harder on your vehicle, tires, fuel consumption, etc. I don't know the traffic volumes of the road, but if for a hypothetical example if paving saved, say $10 of wear and tear to a vehicle and fuel consumption, and if 500 vehicles used the road a day, over the coarse of the year, that would save $1,825,000 (all figures hypothetical rather than pertaining to this road).

    There is also a matter of funding. Even if it were decided that it would be cheaper in the long run for the road department(s) to pave the road, they have to have the money to pay for it. Do they have it now? If they don't have it, they couldn't pave the road now anyway, even if it would be cheaper in the long run.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

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  19. #12
    Sounds like American Canyoneers just went Westborough baptist on us.
    Your safety is not my responsibility.

  20. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Deathcricket View Post
    Sounds like American Canyoneers just went Westborough baptist on us.
    I believe American Canyoneers would be wise to at least present their reasoning for supporting the position they have taken....


    I believe American Canyoneers would be even wiser to present the facts, hold some discussions and attempt to reach some type of consensus with their membership. And if a consensus can't be reached then only information should be presented to the membership so they can support as they see fit and American Canyoneers should not take an official position.

    Anyhoo.... that's what I'd do....

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  22. #14
    I also agree that it would be much nicer if it were paved...I'd say down to Dance Hall Rock...unless they wanted to put up a big "scenic overlook" parking lot at the lake?

    Tons of people would be flying down the road to get to the overlook if it were paved, that's why I would endorse just to DHR.

    I've been up and down and off to the sides of that road for 25 years...I've seen cars that should never have tried to get down to Coyote broken down, with an oil trail behind them. Lots of flat tires. I drive a big pickup, but covering that distance, nice and smooth, sure would be nice.

    Consider the Burr trail. It's paved from Boulder all the way to the park boundary, and it's NICE! I don't see it being a problem at all.

    Sure, a lot more lookie loos with drive down it, but who cares? Most of them will just park, take a few pictures and leave. The bottom line is that most of those that are going down there to have fun will have a much easier go of it, and that's a good thing.
    Life is what you make it. Everybody knows that...right?

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  24. #15
    I know there are AC members on Bogley and I hope they chime in. I would like to know the basis of their decision.

    Thank you Scott for a perspective from a subject matter expert.

  25. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Iceaxe View Post
    To pave or not pave the Hole in the Rock Road... that is the question....

    So this concerns me greatly.... American Canyoneers has taken a stance on an access issue with almost ZERO input for their membership and with almost ZERO research on what the impacts will be. I believe this is a knee jerk reaction.


    You can read the details here:
    http://www.americancanyoneers.org/gs...e-study-hitrr/


    But bottom line American Canyoneers is advocating that the Hole in the Rock Road not be paved.


    I don't know if paving the road is a good or bad idea, I'd really need more information to establish a sound conclusion.

    Here are a couple of quick thoughts... a county normally paves a road when it makes sense economically. In other words, because of higher traffic there is a point in time where it is cheaper to pave the road than it is to maintain a gravel/dirt road. Is easier access a bad thing? If so, bad for who? Certainly not the county who would be responsible for the road.... If limiting access is your goal shouldn't you be advocating for the road to no longer be maintained at all? After a few large storms the road would soon turn into a 4x4 road and greatly limit access....


    I'd really be interested in seeing more research and facts from both sides before jumping to a conclusion.... Why does the county want to pave the road? What is the long term projection for the area? Will paving the road actually impact visitation? If so, how much? Is the long term effect going to help or hurt canyoneering? I really hate to see a national access organization jump to a conclusion without some facts, figures and muscle to back up their stance, not to mention a consensus from their membership.... anyhoo... food for thought....
    Shane

    Why stop with just paving the Hole in the Rock Road? And Bob, don't worry about the money. There are vast Federal dollars available for building roads. The politicians love projects like this. But why stop at just paving the road because obviously someone will need to regulate the vast hordes that will be loving this area to death ( not really sure that isn't happening right now). I think we need a brand spanking new Escalante Giant Staircase National Park. This has local advantages because the federal government will have to take over road maintenance saving the local government boat loads of money. Something like this will bring in a huge financial windfall for the local Escalante economy. I am looking forward to buying my time share from the new Westin that will become feasible right next to this new park. Instead of having to drive 11 hours from Los Angeles, I will be able to fly into Escalante in 2 hours. I have always said that this area would be a National park if the Hole in the Rock Road was paved. Perhaps the Park Authorities will consider making the Golden Cathedral wheelchair accessible. Please read Desert Solitude by Edward Abbey. Please be careful what you wish for. I am prepared to donate money to make this area a national park if the road gets paved because there will really be no other way to protect this area at that point. Currently the unpaved road is slowing down the hordes. Personally I think it will be inevitable that this road will get paved.

    Ken

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  27. #17
    Bogley BigShot oldno7's Avatar
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    Seems odd that this group(AC) was formed after the dictatorship of the aca would not allow any opinions other than it's rulers, to be voiced.

    I thought this was supposed to be an organization that included all it's members in important decisions.

    Now it would appear a "select" group is in charge and pushing their agenda, lacking a vote of the populace.

    Seem's somewhat similar to the last canyoneering assoc.

    The last association claimed it was the voice of 4000(it was not!)

    AC's claim to be the voice of 300--is it???
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  28. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Byron View Post
    I also agree that it would be much nicer if it were paved...I'd say down to Dance Hall Rock...unless they wanted to put up a big "scenic overlook" parking lot at the lake?

    Sure, a lot more lookie loos with drive down it, but who cares? Most of them will just park, take a few pictures and leave. The bottom line is that most of those that are going down there to have fun will have a much easier go of it, and that's a good thing.
    ^ Nice take Byron. ^ Just a couple of cents to add:

    None, partially paved, fully paved... From the type of traffic I've seen, I don't think it will really matter. The people that want to go to the end, will go. Heck, I've seen a Toyota Corolla make it to the end. Really, who is going to drive 42 miles to Dance Hall and not brave the final 13? The world's worst parents??

    From what I've seen there are 4 groups of folks that use the road:

    1. Cattle ranchers - paving it will doubtfully change their use of the road. You wouldn't make extra laps to/from work if the road was nicer, would you?

    2. Mormon history buffs - Yes, pavement will increase their use of the road. But they are the aformentioned 'lookie loos', having little impact on the area. Already, I see lots of SUV's packed with kids and elderly folks driving down to the end for a look-see. Harmless family fun.

    3. Casual hikers - Think Spooky & Peekaboo and Devil's Graden. I think this traffic will also stay the same (maybe slightly increase). Already the dirt road out to these places is fantastic! I set the cruise control to 60 mph and just zoom out there. Any car could get there, so nobody is currently deterred.

    4. Hardcore hikers - Since the roads around Coyote suck, and the road to Egypt REALLY sucks, this traffic will probably remain the same too. Those roads are REAL barriers, HITRR is small potatoes in comparison. The quality canyoneering experiences in the area would not be affected.

    So, it's difficult for anyone to prove me wrong, and equally difficult for me to prove anyone else wrong. Honestly, how would one measure the number of people are deterred by the lack of pavement each year... without paving it? I just don't see the 'negative impact' argument here.

    Lastly, an important point regarding the unlikley increase in traffic: HITTR is not a through-road. Being a road to nowhere is the biggest deterrent to traffic. If it was like Cottonwood Road, cutting across the pristine Grand Staircase area, then there would be a major increase in traffic and measurable harm done.

    I wonder how the American Canyoneers arrived at the conclusion that a paved road is a bad thing? (honest question) And why is there no comment from them on the world's biggest canyoneering forum?
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  30. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Slot Machine View Post
    I wonder how the American Canyoneers arrived at the conclusion that a paved road is a bad thing? (honest question) And why is there no comment from them on the world's biggest canyoneering forum?
    ^^^THIS^^^

    I have also sent PM's to AC board members and have yet to receive a response. While the Bogley poll is only a small percentage of canyoneers I believe it offers a fair representation of canyoneers as a whole and only 30% of canyoneers currently support American Canyoneers position.

    Yo! American Canyoneer, we want some answers to our questions.... if you want our support you also need to support us, your local B-team canyoneers.


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  32. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by spinesnaper View Post
    I have always said that this area would be a National park if the Hole in the Rock Road was paved. Perhaps the Park Authorities will consider making the Golden Cathedral wheelchair accessible. Please read Desert Solitude by Edward Abbey.
    Great post, dude...It made me laugh out loud! I seriously doubt that they'll make anything down that road a National Park anytime soon, as the gov can barley afford the ones they're running now.

    In regards to Mr. Abbey, he was, in my opinion, a piece of sh*t. If you read his book "Good News", you just might see him differently. Yeah, it sure would have been nice to have Arches all to yourself, enjoying the view and reveling in misanthropic thoughts...but those days are over.

    A Westin in Escalante? Uh...I've gotta ask, does it bother you that they fixed up the Circle D?
    Life is what you make it. Everybody knows that...right?

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