A Gila County project that has been on the books for years has finally gotten the necessary funding to move forward.
The project -- realigning and widening Fossil Creek Road in Strawberry -- is long overdue, Dist. 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen said. Last Tuesday, the county awarded an engineering contract for the project to ASL Engineering of Payson.
"Fossil Creek is the main contributory to the area," Christensen said. "There's lots of subdivisions there, as well as it being a main tourist route to places like Childs and the Strawberry Schoolhouse."
The narrow, winding road is outdated and poorly designed to serve as one of the community's primary routes, the supervisor said.
"It needs to be redesigned, straightened out a little," he said. "The road is so narrow that normal traffic now just drives down the center of the road, and we're wasting paint just trying to keep the center line stripe painted."
The proposed project would rebuild the popular thoroughfare from Highway 87 to the U.S. Forest Service boundary, which is "just a hair less than three miles," Christensen said. "If we wanted to go past that, we'd have to work with the federal government to do any improvements."
Other road blocks to the project have come from the property owners along the road who have built fences and walls in the county's right-of-way, Christensen said.
"We have encroachments where people have built out fences and block walls and a variety of other things into the road right-of-way," he said. "We still have to resolve those issues."
The county will warn property owners of any right-of-way violations, and will give people a chance to move their fences, walls, trees or any other encroaching fixtures.
"There will be other things that have to be moved, like gas, cable, other utilities," Christensen said, adding that the beginning of construction will depend on cooperation from those charged with righting their violations.
"We expect to start by July 2000," he said. "It could be earlier, if winter allows for utilities to move their lines."
The road will remain open during the three-month project, but traffic will be restricted.
Gila County was able to secure about $1 million in funding for the project, the supervisor said. The county will chip in $250,000.