I-11 route

Lt. Col. Gregory Gibbons speaks to community members at the Hawthorne Convention Center on the possible I-11 route coming through Mineral County. Some of the near 200 residents in attendance provided feedback on where they would like to see it go.

Mineral County residents gathered last week to determine the possibility of the I-11 corridor coming into their county.

Lt. Col. Gregory Gibbons of Hawthorne Army Depot explained to the almost 200 residents that the I-11 corridor will not only be a transportation route but also an energy corridor. Mineral County is in a good place with the rail line that is operated and maintained for base functions.

Gibbons said, “The better, the closer, the cheaper, the better for the base to do their functions.”

Gibbons explained that he has no opinion on where the I-11 corridor should be routed or even if it should come to town. He clearly wanted the people of Mineral County to be the voice of the decision. Ultimately, the decision lies in the hands of Nevada Department of Transportation and our legislatures, but Gibbons ensured residents that he will fight for “what you want”.

“It [I-11] is important for us, as the Hawthorne community decides what they want. Do we want the road to come through here or to Gabbs [in Nye County]?” he asked the crowd.

Explaining that Mineral County is unique with 54 miles of base rail and over 100 miles of rail bed to the south, Mineral County could become the hub for the corridor which would move items from Mexico to Canada, freeing up other congested traffic areas.

But with the development, must come support. “Get off your hands and get their support to come to Mineral County. That is what will determine where the road goes,” Gibbons told the crowd.

A list of legislatures, prepared by Shelley Hartmann, Director of Mineral County Economic Development, has been place within the inserts of this week’s Independent-News, with a forward from the Independent-News. Legislatures must hear from residents as to your opinion.

“It is fantastic to see everyone here. Go home and talk to your neighbors. Decide what is important and where we want it to go. Talk with Schurz, Fallon and Walker Lake. Decide today, do we want it to go through Mineral County or Gabbs,” was the main point that Gibbons tried to convey to the crowd.

Randall Jack with the Walker River Paiute Tribe explained the agreement with the rail system, explaining the accommodating of the rail for the community of Schurz and beyond Schurz.

“Feasibility for all of them to come through Schurz,” Jack stated. He asked Gibbons to come to a tribal meeting so they can come together.

Mark Nixon, Mineral County Regional Planning Commission, spokesman went through the proposed maps individually, pointing out the positive and negative in each. A unanimous vote of yay of “map 2” was taken by the people in attendance.

Those in attendance were inquisitive to the proceeding, asking about such issues as: wild horse preservation on the back side of Walker Lake if a freeway was installed; where on and off ramps would be placed; the Chinese cemetery on Alternate Route 95 and dust storms across Walker Lake.

Shannon Chidester, a local Hawthorne resident, said, “We got to get this as close to Hawthorne as we can. The town will be like a ghost town, if not. We’ve got to get this as close as we can.”

Clyde Clinger, also of Hawthorne, spoke her peace saying, “I spent a better part of a lifetime in Mineral County, raised in Mina. 40 years ago, a survey crew was surveying this very highway and discussed proposal. As a young lady, I remember them saying they would absolutely go around Luning and Mina. Have you or any of the commissioner’s talked to Nevada Department of Transportation? Where is your research? Have they approached you with this research?”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen was put on the spot to speak about the I-11 corridor, saying, “I promise to do all I can do. I will promise you this when you figure out route you want, I’ll work hard to get you that.”

Business owners spoke out in favor of keeping the interstate as close to or in Hawthorne as possible.

Tom Reinhart, of the El Capitan Lodge and Casino said, “We need professional lobbyists. We need to fund an economic impact statement and figure out how much revenue we are going to lose. We fight, we battle, we save this town! We don’t show any other map than the one we want. You stand behind the only one you so support. This is so important in how this is presented.”

Rob Cashell, owner of Joe’s Tavern, asked, “Who is really going to make the decision? We need to give them hell until we get what we want. We need to be organized and fight the hell out of them or they are going to run over the top of us.”

Right now, the future of Hawthorne and Mineral County remains in the hands of the residents. Phone calls, emails and letters to legislatures from county positions to state officials are what is needed to either get the I-11 corridor into or out of Mineral County.