Safe speed limits sought for Escalante Canyon Road

By Annette Brand


Several people concerned about speeding vehicles on Escalante Canyon Road met Aug. 1 at the Delta County Courthouse to discuss the traffic situations that make it necessary to establish and post speed limits.

Kent Davis, representing Escalante Ranch, noted that between the Capt. Smith cabin and the highway a lot of the land is being farmed. Sixteen-foot, 19-foot, 20-foot farm machinery is being operated in that area. With the increased number of vehicles, and the increased speed at which they are being driven, it's not "if" but "when" an accident will occur.

Davis said side-by-sides and four-wheelers are providing the biggest opportunity for an accident.

Sheriff Fred McKee noted that during an engineering survey, the average speed for all vehicles was 24 mph, with 59 mph the highest speed clocked. He recommended speeds of 15 to 30 mph, depending on road conditions.

He added that signage should help.

Dick Miller, owner of Escalante Ranch, said, "Sign-age is an issue, but ATVs being used as race cars instead of recreation vehicles is a major problem that needs to be addressed.

"Not all the people driving them are 18. I see kids 10 to 12 driving the things."

McKee said he sees the same issue on Grand Mesa.

Collin Ewing, Dominguez-Escalante NCA manager, said, "Since legislation declaring this area a National Conservation Area, people have become aware of it as a desirable place for recreation. OHVs are an appropriate vehicle to use to learn about the area. It's an opportunity for the public to learn about homesteading and ranching history."

Chuckling, those present volunteered other ways the area could be enjoyed -- from a full-size vehicle, a bicycle, walking, and on a horse.

Mike LeMaster, president of the Thunder Mountain Four-Wheelers, recommended signs at the kiosk on Hwy. 50 and two or three other locations down the road to remind OHV drivers that they must obey the same regulations as cars and pickups.

The meeting was attended by Delta County Commissioners Doug Atchley and Bruce Hovde, as well as county staff. Atchley suggested taking the discussion to a public hearing, to allow more ideas to be heard. If an ordinance can be passed, the sheriff pledged to step up patrol during the summer months to get the word out to drivers.