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Devil's Highway closed

Texas T

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A friend of mine who rides also drives one of the haul trucks down in the Morenci mine and said today that the closure will be indefinite. There has been some discussion over the past few months that AZDOT doesn't want the expense of maintaining that section of road from Alpine to Morenci due to the small amount of traffic that it supports, and the mine is going to expand and eat into some of the lower end of 191, so who knows?

If I hear anything to the contrary I'll post it up.
 
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The upside will be much less traffic. Just need to do a down and back from Alpine. Can't think of a better road to do that on.

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Well that blows, glad I got to ride it several times. Maybe it will become a dead end down towards the mine. That would make a nice little 160+ mile day ride from Alpine.
 
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I really dont see a US highway as a dead end..... Rerouted...yes.....over toward Safford...bypassing Morenci & Clifton

Or...abandoned & turned over to the state for them to maintain....

By the way....the news story from that link only stated that a bridge would be closed for repairs.... Not for good
 
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I made a last minit decision to ride 191 this last year..after Dahveed left for home.. Was comin south from Santa Fe...Madrid to Mountain Air & changed my direction from Ruidoso to Reserve.
Stayed the nite in Alpine
 

drfood

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I hope it doesn't close permanently....and that it reopens by Labor Day week. J and I are doing a grand loop vacation in September from Houston to Las Vegas to Yosemite up the coast to Port Angeles, WA over to Glacier to Mt Rushmore and then home. We love 191 and were looking forward to riding it again this year.
 

Texas T

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By the way....the news story from that link only stated that a bridge would be closed for repairs.... Not for good
Yes, that is what the story said. My friend who works for the mine says that the closure may extend far beyond the time frame to just fix the bridge. When I rode 191 last June the mine was still in the process of re-routing a small section to accommodate changes in the Haul road. If the mine does expand to become one large pit there is no way for the existing 191 to remain in place. If the Garfield Gulch pit expands to the SE to meet the Santa Rosa Gulch it will eat up the 191 that currently runs between them.
 
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If the mine does expand & eats up the existing stretch of 191 thru Morenci to Clifton....then that company should be charged with the costs of relocating 191 either east of the mine to 78....or more likely..west of it toward Safford.
That company probably has the equipment & manpower (& cash) to perform the relocation task itself.
Prob get the job done in half the time too
 
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If the mine does expand & eats up the existing stretch of 191 thru Morenci to Clifton....then that company should be charged with the costs of relocating 191 either east of the mine to 78....or more likely..west of it toward Safford.
That company probably has the equipment & manpower (& cash) to perform the relocation task itself.
Prob get the job done in half the time too
+1
 

Texas T

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I don't know... the state has been making noises lately about the expense of maintaining that road:

January 11, 2018
SAFFORD – While the Arizona Department of Transportation plans to involve the community in developing long-term plans for maintaining US 191 between Morenci and Alpine, closing this stretch is not – and never has been – among the options under consideration.

“While ADOT isn’t proposing any concrete action, we want to have a transparent and detailed discussion with all stakeholders to determine the best long-term plan for US 191 though this area,” said Bill Harmon, district engineer for ADOT’s Southeast District. “Such a discussion would involve residents, local agencies, elected leaders and other stakeholders. Among other issues, it would take into account the area’s public safety needs.”

The 80-mile stretch of US 191 between Morenci and Alpine is one of the least-traveled in the state highway system, used on average by 81 vehicles per day.

The winding, high-altitude path through national forest that makes this stretch so beautiful for motorists also makes it expensive to maintain: The average annual cost was $658,000 between 2011 and 2016, in large part due to plowing snow and addressing damage from harsh winter weather.

Long-term options that could be developed over the coming years include partnerships with other agencies to share maintenance costs, exploring federal funding and grant opportunities to offset maintenance, operation and construction costs, or turning the stretch over to local jurisdictions willing to take it into their systems.

“With transportation funding limited and nearly 7,000 miles of state highways to maintain, ADOT has an obligation to collaborate with area stakeholders in developing long-term plans for low-volume routes,” Harmon said. “We understand that US 191 is important to connectivity within and between Greenlee and Apache counties, and that must be the starting point for these discussions.”


While driving from Three-Way to Alpine via NM is about another 20-30 miles compared to straight up 191, the time to drive it is still less going through NM, so for people just looking to get from Point A to Point B, I don't think they will care that much, while folks like us that WANT to ride the twisty road are such a minuscule percentage of the overall traffic we probably aren't even a blip on the State's radar.
 
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Such a sad day to have a marvelous stretch of highway fall by the wayside due to the moneymaking opportunities of a truly huge company that doesnt care one whit about the recreational aspect of said highway. They prob see it only as a liability ...upsetting the onward progress of the mining operation

I still say the mining company should foot the bill to help keep 191 a viable alternate roadway connecting cities in eastern AZ
 

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Heck, I'd pay if it were a toll road. Get it designated as a scenic byway, charge a toll. I'd pay $10-20 for a ride on it without hesitation. According to the number quoted by Brian, they need roughly $100K per year. At $20 per vehicle, that is around 13 vehicle/day for every day of the year. The state should look to develop it into a tourist attraction, maybe like Deal's Gap in NC. I'd hate to see it closed.

I had the privilege of riding it just days after it had been repaved with asphalt. It was PERFECT!
 
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Heck, I'd pay if it were a toll road. Get it designated as a scenic byway,...
It already is, Coronado Trail Scenic Byway.

Another factor that tells me road will never be completely closed is the access it provides to the many public land, NF, campsites, hiking trails, lakes, etc.
 
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Heck, I'd pay if it were a toll road. Get it designated as a scenic byway, charge a toll. I'd pay $10-20 for a ride on it without hesitation. According to the number quoted by Brian, they need roughly $100K per year. At $20 per vehicle, that is around 13 vehicle/day for every day of the year. The state should look to develop it into a tourist attraction, maybe like Deal's Gap in NC. I'd hate to see it closed.

I had the privilege of riding it just days after it had been repaved with asphalt. It was PERFECT!
Ya'll have too much money.

The mining company should pay.... They're the ones tearing it up
 

Tourmeister

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Ya'll have too much money.

The mining company should pay.... They're the ones tearing it up
I agree. But they most likely have a LOT of political pull. So if they choose not to pay, it might be tough to make them pay.
 

Texas T

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Such a sad day to have a marvelous stretch of highway fall by the wayside due to the moneymaking opportunities of a truly huge company that doesnt care one whit about the recreational aspect of said highway. They prob see it only as a liability ...upsetting the onward progress of the mining operation

I still say the mining company should foot the bill to help keep 191 a viable alternate roadway connecting cities in eastern AZ
Keep in mind that most of this is conjecture. We'll know for sure when we know for sure.
 

Texas T

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Ya'll have too much money.

The mining company should pay.... They're the ones tearing it up
The mining company doesn't use 191 for their big equipment. And any equipment being hauled in to the mine is coming from the south to the mine entrance in Morenci.
 
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Im speakin of the several times the mine has relocated the highway so far....they can pay to move it again... But this time a bit farther.

Dang...I remember comin thru the Morenci area one time years ago......all the houses were boarded up....& prob about to be demolished...or moved.....Im talkin bout a LOT of houses... so I kno theres GOT to be plenty of company funding for stuff like this.
 

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It's been a about 25 to 30 years since I last rode thru there, here's a google map view of the bridge -
- looks like the mined area has expanded right up to the bridge abutments when you compare the 2019 overhead view to the 2008 street view.
 

drfood

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That mine is chewing up territory fast. We were there last in 2016 and the mine was not as close to the road that far north. J and I both think that bridge wasn't there the last time we passed through. But we might be mistaken.

I have tried to figure out an alternate route for them to take 191. I don't see anything possible that wouldn't cost a potential fortune in land acquisition and construction cost.

I agree with making the mine pay for relocation or better maintenance at least on the stretch that runs w/in a distance of the mine.

I also agree about promoting it and getting the motorcycle fans and sport car fans to run it like the roads the folks in TN and KY have managed to promote so well. Surely Arizona has some folks in their tourism and highway departments who ride.

Like I said...hopefully it will be open right after Labor Day. We are rerouting our trip from Houston to Las Vegas to be able to ride it if possible.
 
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