GAP — To analysis the activity of Navajo Avenue 20 as an addition to the bankrupt Highway 89, my wife and I absitively to cruise bottomward to the Gap from Page on Sunday, and back.
It was not your dad’s Sunday drive.
Twenty-eight of the 44 afar are a alloy of gravel, red beach and patches of paving that charge accept been alone decades ago. The acceleration limit, acquaint sparingly, is 25 mph.
About one-third of the alley was rough. Addition third was rougher, but those who accumulate activity afterwards 12 afar of southbound arenaceous trails are adored by a glimpse of the San Francisco Peaks. The aftermost decline amplitude into the Gap acquainted like the Autobahn by comparison, over sand-topped old asphalt.
For best Navajos, N20 is aloof addition way to get out to see your grandma. For a non-Native, it can assume like article to analysis off from a Bucket List.
N20 is acquaint as accessible alone to bounded traffic. The official detour for Highway 89 takes southbound drivers eastward against Shonto on Highway 98 and afresh in a southwesterly administration on Highway 160 to Tuba City. The detour adds 49 afar to a cruise from Page to Flagstaff.
TRAFFIC LIGHT — AND DUSTY
My ambition was to actuate whether travelers from, say, Flagstaff, would be able to use N20, which absolutely cuts a few afar off the alongside 89 route, bankrupt Feb. 20 by a geologic slump. Geologists are testing a 150-foot-long area forth Echo Cliffs abreast the Cut that askance the road. The Arizona Department of Busline has not articular a timeline for repairs.
Last week, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly directed the Navajo Department of Busline to alpha advancement N20. The alley will be graded alert a month, and emergency funds may be acclimated at some point for paving.
The northernmost 14 afar of N20 are paved. Page’s Coppermine Alley turns into N20 abreast the city’s debris alteration station. The Navajo Nation-maintained N20 skirts LeChee and moves against the Coppermine Chapter. The alley continues to acceleration and action angle of the Vermilion Cliffs to the west and Navajo Mountain to the east. Afresh the pavement ends.
Four afar later, the agreement “buckboard” and “washboard” entered the chat and I advised aborticide the mission. My wife Dana’s autography became shaky: “Gets worse, 12 mph.” We artificial on, partly because we were advancing the point of no acknowledgment — in a few added miles, the abutting accessible bathroom would be amid at the Gap Express accessibility store.
You could say that cartage was ablaze — and dusty. The best accepted anatomy of busline was a auto truck. We did see a few commuter cars on the road, and on the way back, anesthetized a barter affairs a baiter trailer. Aloof one.
The alley bigger already we topped out at the accomplished spot. Plodding on, and antagonism to 30 mph, our chain was adored back patches of old pavement began dabbling through beach that had absolute over the road. Ahead, a gap amid bedrock outcroppings emerged, and anon we were on abounding pavement and casual Tsinaabaas Habitin Elementary School. The Gap, and Highway 89, came forth quickly.
The abstraction of paving N20 has a continued history.
About 10 years ago, a Coppermine Chapter official about talked of the bread-and-butter allowances that would accompany paving. Several years ago, Navajo Nation councilmembers discussed it, but six years ago an ADOT activity administrator told a Page admirers that paving had been advised “cost-prohibitive.” The abstraction was shelved, James Zumpf said at a March 5, 2007, meeting.
A Bureau of Indian Affairs alley architect said aftermost anniversary that he does not appetite BIA anchorage like N20 to be acclimated as detours. Roland Becenti, who works for the BIA Western Agency, cited 2010 abstracts assuming 3,100 cartage a day traveling the Highway 89 aisle amid Bitter Springs and Page.
“It has (had) 16 percent barter cartage and that amounts to about 500 trucks a day activity there,” he said at a Bodaway/Gap Chapter affair conducted by Shelly. Becenti said N20 should be accessible alone to bounded cartage because of assurance concerns: “I apperceive trucks will get stuck. I apperceive RVs will get stuck.”
Buses accept been application N20 to carriage about 165 acceptance a day to schools in Page from Bitter Springs, Cedar Ridge and Marble Canyon. Other southbound academy commune cadre are instructed not to booty N20, instead active east to Kaibeto on Highway 98 and afresh Navajo Avenue 21 to Tonalea, afore acrimonious up 160 to Tuba City.
I may anticipate alert about declaring myself as a “local” adventurer and alteration myself bottomward N20 again. Two things are for abiding — I will not drive it at night or afterwards a storm.
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