How an infrastructure bill can help rural communities in the West

Kane Creek Road, a curving asphalt road nestled between the Colorado River and red rock cliffs, might not see much use were it not situated in Moab, Utah — a small town so inundated with visitors these days that City Manager Joel Linares says he’s never bored.

“We’re just getting overrun. We just cannot keep up,” Linares said.

The road, which leads to a popular off-roading route, is falling apart, according to Linares. The byway has turned into a kind of quilt with lines of asphalt zigzagging every way. “I don’t know that there’s a 6 foot by 6 foot square of asphalt left in the whole road. I mean, it’s just a big piece of patchwork.” he said.

Quick fixes just aren’t working anymore.

Deteriorating Kane Creek and other roads in this area of southeastern Utah are an example of how a small town of roughly 5,000 full-time residents must contend with big city infrastructure problems brought on by an average of 3 million visitors a year.

“All of our projects and everything is so geared towards meeting the market demand that’s being driven by overnight accommodations,” Linares said. “We never have time or money to go in and take care of our failing infrastructure that’s decades and decades and decades old.”

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