Mono County’s Board of Supervisors approved pursuit of a Functional Classification Change, authorizing Jeff Walters, Director of the County’s Public Works Department, to submit to Caltrans plans to upgrade the classification of Hot Creek Hatchery and Airport roads. The change, Walters said, is due to an increase in flights and resulting traffic along the two access roads to the Mammoth – Yosemite Airport. With the new seven flights per day winter schedule, traffic now numbers in the thousands of vehicles per month, as opposed to hundreds or even dozens when at one flight per day.
The classification of the two roads would go from “minor collectors,” which are not eligible for Caltrans funding to affect repairs, to “major collectors.” Caltrans District Coordinators will review the change, and if Caltrans approves the plan, the coordinators would then write a letter of concurrence, which would be forwarded to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in Washington D.C.
FHWA approval would mean that the roads would be put into the mix for federal road maintenance and expansion funding, as deemed necessary. Yet to be worked out is coordination with Town of Mammoth Lakes regarding divvying up maintenance and other upkeep costs, as well as any possible effect on federal funding from a possible additional access route from the south via Benton Crossing Road.
During the winter, snowplowing might need to start earlier, since some of the newer flights take off earlier than previous times that have characterized previous winter seasons.