Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, is seeking funds to improve roads and reduce the isolation of the remote Navajo Mountain area. The region lies on the Utah-Arizona border near Lake Powell on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
Nielson told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior that the 900 residents of that area must now drive nearly three hours over poor, mostly dirt roads just to go shopping, and that the poor roads make schooling and mail delivery difficult."They have no access to Utah mail delivery because there is no road access through Utah, and yet they do not have an Arizona ZIP code because they are in Utah. The only way residents can get their mail is by receiving it in Tuba City, Ariz., then having it sent in a mail pouch with anyone who happens to be traveling to Navajo Mountain."
He added, "Children must attend boarding schools or no school at all since it is too difficult to travel back and forth between home and school. And the situation is difficult in the case of medical emergencies."
Also, Nielson said, "It is 200 miles from Navajo Mountain to the county seat in Monticello. In order to pay their taxes or license their cars, residents must go out of their way into Arizona and back into Utah over extremely winding and mountainous roads that are impassable after inclement weather."
Nielson is asking for money to build a new eight-mile stretch of connecting road that would give residents a more direct route to Utah cities. "The road would need to be cut through some cliffs and steep grades."
He would also like an extension of the existing road to Lake Powell in Copper Canyon to allow moving the new Navajo-owned Piute Farms marina down the San Juan River. Its current site is expected to be covered with silt within the next two to three years, and other favorable sites are not yet reachable by road.
"I have been encouraged by the jobs created as a result of the marina and there seems to be more potential," Nielson said. "I would hate to see it lost due to lack of proper roads in the area."