HUNTSVILLE — Cindy Maher, of Eden, is already too familiar with rocks falling onto the state road at Pineview Dam.
Two years ago, a softball-size rock did $2,000 damage to her family’s truck, near the spot where a Layton man was critically injured by a boulder Saturday.
“Why don’t they have fencing so people don’t get pummeled,” Maher said Monday. “It’s something that absolutely has to be done. I don’t want them to drag their feet.”
The 57-year-old driver Saturday suffered critical injuries when a 150-pound boulder smashed through the windshield of his pickup.
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office on Monday declined to release the man’s name due to privacy concerns.
Vic Saunders, an Ogden spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation, said the land above the road is controlled by the federal government.
“There’s really no way to keep the boulders from coming down,” Saunders said. “Number one, it’s not on our property.”
Saunders said UDOT has an easement for the road, known as State Road 158, but the land above is controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Forest Service.
“We monitor for rocks every day,” he said. “The little rocks that come down, we move off the roadway.”
He said the boulder strike Saturday was the worst in memory on the road.
On nearby State Road 39 through Ogden Canyon, a rockslide showered the pavement in 2011, damaging at least one car.
“We went up and removed all the material and did everything we could,” he said.
But the trouble spot at the dam’s spillway “is a little bit different geological structure,” Saunders said, a cliff wall right by the road and then a long mountainside above.
“This was a rare event,” Saunders said. “Any canyon area is at risk for falling rocks. You see the ubiquitous sign, ‘Watch for falling rocks.’”
He said the area where the rocks come from is not easily accessible and he expects a project to retain the risk would be “fairly expensive.” It would take multiple organizations to make such a project a reality, he said.
“That would be the responsibility of other agencies,” he said. “I’m sure if they wanted to work together we would be open to hearing their proposal.”
Later Monday, Saunders said the UDOT Region One director informed him that the state agency plans to act.
“We will have a geotechnical crew come up and look at the area and do an inspection to see what might be done,” Saunders said. “We might make a proposal to the Bureau of Reclamation.”
Maher said she avoids the road during rainy times, when rock fall increases.
“I guess it’s going to take somebody getting killed, and I don’t mean me, I mean Gov. Herbert or someone important, before they do anything,” she said.
Other drivers joined in on social media with criticism of authorities for not better safeguarding drivers the road, but others said it’s a fact of life in the mountainous West and government can do only so much.