|Congressman Jim Matheson stands on the side of Carbonville Road with Commissioners Mike Milovich and Bill Krompel as they inspect the deteriorating condition of one of the busiest highways.|
Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson took a tour of Carbon County, both geographically and culturally on Tuesday afternoon, as he spent some time in what has been a stronghold of Democratic votes for him each year he has run.
"Last election we won by only 1600 votes," he told a group of supporters assembled at Pioneer Park. "It will be close again this year and Carbon County has always helped me."
Matheson began his day spending some time in Emery County and then came to Carbon and attended a meeting at the Active Re-Entry Building where he addressed a group of people who were there to learn about government prescription drug programs.
After that he met with Carbon County Commissioners Mike Milovich and Bill Krompel about various issues concerning them. He then spent some time touring various areas of the county with the two commissioners.
Their travels took them to Carbonville Road where Krompel and Milovich explained what the county was trying to do with the funding they have been promised for the revamping of that road. Krompel told Matheson that the road is the busiest county road and as they stood by the side of the road near a crumbling bridge abutment, they watched as the afternoon traffic buzzed by.
"This is certainly more busy than I would have thought it was by just looking at it from the car," commented Matheson. "I can definitely see the need for the improvements."
The county has been able to secure about 80 percent of the easements on the west side of the road from the 75 plus landowners, but on the east side, completely owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, it has been more difficult. At one point the railroad proposed that the county could go ahead if they would put in a fence the entire 3.5 mile length of the line that is next to the road. The cost for that would have been between $150-$200,000 more than had been anticipated in the engineering study. Krompel, however, said that has now changed, due to in some extent to Matheson's help in negotiating with the rail company.
"We just wanted him to see what needed to be done there and to thank him for his help," said Krompel.
The three also looked at the Highway 10 corridor that runs from Highway 6 to Stake Farm Road, an area that is under study now by the Utah Department of Transportation. A state highway, that road is the busiest thoroughfare in the county handling between 12-15,000 vehicles per day. The pair of commissioners described the various scenarios that UDOT is looking at to solve the problems on the road.
During the evening meeting Matheson discussed various issues that affect Carbon residents. Those issues included the proposed Gooseberry Dam project, Highway 6 and the resumption of nuclear testing.
"I have a hard time believing that congress has authorized further testing in Nevada when the results of those tests done during the 1940-1960's are still appearing in Americans," he said. "I have introduced a bill called the Safety for Americans from Testing Act into the house to try and keep these tests from happening. Senator (Bob) Bennett is also introducing similar legislation into the Senate as well. This is not a partisan issue, it is a Utah, an American issue."
Matheson is currently engaged in a campaign to get re-elected in Utah's Second Congressional District. He is in a tight battle with Republican John Swallow, whom he narrowly defeated in 2002 for the same seat.