Highway Update!

by Whatsblem the Pro

NV State Route 447 in June of this year -- PHOTO: Ralph Minnitte

NV State Route 447 in June of this year — PHOTO: Ralph Minnitte

A lot of burners have been worried about the condition of Nevada State Route 447 since the recent heavy rains washed out a portion of the road. NV 447 is the main route in and out of Black Rock, and any really significant construction delays could cause some serious problems for tens of thousands of people trying to get to the playa.

A recent edition of Jack Rabbit Speaks advised burners to exercise more than usual caution when driving out to the playa, stating that 447 had “taken a beating” and speculating that road repair work could possibly create a twenty-mile bottleneck of single-lane traffic. “Allow extra time for your journey,” advised the JRS.

Be just, and fear not.

I personally drove 447 just a few days ago; at this point, what remains evident of the damage is nearly all to the highway’s shoulders along the stretch where the flooding was at its worst. It’s certainly true that construction work on the highway would be liable to cause delays even more serious than the actual damage to the road, but you can put the JRS down now and take a deep breath: in a thoughtful and canny maneuver that shows how well-regarded Burning Man actually is by local State and County authorities, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has announced that they will cease all road work for a three-week period, to accommodate traffic going in and out of Black Rock City.

“We’re so aware of Burning Man that we don’t do any major road work during the event,” said Scott Magruder, an NDOT spokesman. Magruder added that NDOT is currently doing all they can to repair the road as well as possible before ceasing operations entirely for the duration of the festival.

“Just obey the speed limit,” Magruder advised. “You’re going to make it there. Of course, we can’t predict if there will be another severe water event.”

With 447’s shoulders in a marginal state, further flooding – which happily is not expected – could wash the damaged section out entirely. Always check the weather before you head out to any wilderness, and plan accordingly. . . even if 60,000 of your best friends will be there waiting for you.

Naturally, NDOT will have people patrolling the road to make sure everything flows smoothly. So will the Nevada Highway Patrol and various other law enforcement agencies, so make sure your vehicle is legit, and keep your big lead foot the hell out of the gas out there. I know it’s a temptation to go screaming balls-out down the road toward the best time you’ll ever have, but driving the speed limit will get you there just fine, while speeding might get you pulled over and potentially screwed right in the vacation-hole. . . or worse. Drive safely, arrive safely, and save the mayhem and madness for the playa.

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