On October 11, 2011, I departed the Moab Rim Campark on South U.S. Highway 191. From there, I drove north toward Moab, Utah. As I approached Downtown, I watched a motorcycle enter the highway and proceed ahead of me, traveling in my direction. Although the bike looked like an overgrown café racer, something about the rider caught my eye. As I accelerated to catch up, I realized that it was a young woman riding the motorcycle. Wearing no safety helmet, and with her hair blowing in the wind, I took a deep breath and backed off. With no adult mandatory helmet law in Utah, even young women motorcyclists are
free to risk head injury with impunity. Of course, impunity from prosecution and impunity from fate are two different issues.
After passing Center & Main Streets in Downtown, I saw temporary road signs indicating highway construction ahead. Day and night, there is often heavy traffic on U.S. Highway 191 between Downtown and the new Colorado River Bridge. Even so, most of that section has long remained a substandard two-lane highway. As I drove through the construction zone, I could see that crews had widened and were now repaving the road. Still, most of the new pavement looked too narrow for four traffic lanes. On the positive side, I noticed that there were new traffic signals at either end of the new pavement. If properly synchronized, those signals could help organize southbound traffic before it reached Downtown.
Looking at the ongoing roadwork on that short section of highway, I marveled at how that substandard gateway to the City of Moab had so long endured. As I soon read in the local newspaper, resolution of highway drainage issues near the Matheson Wetlands had long stalled the project’s completion. Although final widening and alignment are still in question, the stretch of new pavement is indeed an improvement over the old situation.
On the next section of my drive, I headed north across the Colorado River Highway Bridge and then past the ever-present Moab Pile. I will write more about conditions there in my next article.