Back East you might not have even heard of a federal agency called the Bureau of Land Management.
But out here in Nevada and the West, the BLM is a well-known three-letter word that sometimes has four-letter words associated with it. BLM comes under the U.S. Department of the Interior and you can find out generic info about the agency at its web site.
The BLM manages millions of acres of PUBLIC federal land in Nevada -- and people being people sometimes don't like the way these federal employees run OUR land.
I cross paths with the BLM all the time because I love cycling the BLM-controlled Red Rock scenic loop, one of the gem PUBLIC resources managed by BLM at the Red Rock National Conservation Area outside the planned community of Summerlin in Las Vegas.
Personally, I like most of the toll collectors/booth workers who take your money or check your annual pass card, though there is a supervisor named Peter who runs the operation like he's Gen. Patton and somehow thinks he owns the Red Rock land.
Anyway, BLM decided to build two bridges along the 13-mile scenic drive to span the Sandstone and Red Rock washes even though bicyclists here say they have not seen the roads flooded too often. After all, we live in the Mojave Desert.
But be that as it may, the BLM decided to spend nearly $5 million of our public dollars on the two bridges even though local residents have been asking the BLM to build a paved trail along SR 159 between the scenic loop's entrance and exit. (The "loop" is not quite a complete full loop -- it exits onto SR 159 about two miles west of the entrance).
To confuse you more, the BLM isn't the federal agency actually overseeing and spending money on the road-bridge project. It's the Federal Highway Administration and a guy named Matt Ambroziak out of the FHWA's Denver office is responsible for the construction project at Red Rock Canyon.
A company called Wadley Construction, Inc. won the contract to build the pair of bridges.
And man, it's been a mess.
First off, construction workers ripped up the road and made it dangerous for bicyclists on road bicycles with narrow tires to ride the dirt and gravel surface.
Second, Wadley is behind schedule and hopefully will receive some fines.
I also asked local BLM workers in the southern Nevada area to inspect the Wadley contract.
Two workers who I was told to contact failed to make this public record available. Those workers are Jeanne Tinsman and Robbie McAboy.
I even received this email from McAboy on Nov. 6:
Your contact information has been provided to the Contracting Officer Representative for this project. I will follow up regarding a time for you to review documents that are considered public record and subject to public review.
Red Rock-Sloan Field Office
Well, McAboy never followed up.
Matt said he had heard about my concerns back in Denver and did email me a link that offers a few clues to the Wadley Construction contract and you can see it here.
The official start date was February 2015 and the scheduled completion date was Oct 16, 2015.
Matt wrote to me via email, "The BLM forwarded your email to me because you have some concerns about the project's impact to cyclists. I am a very avid cyclist and am interested in your concerns and seeing what can be done. Please call me at 303-386-5650 to discuss."
When I told Matt that Wadley Construction was behind schedule, this was his response: "To say the least, the contractor is behind schedule and are currently facing liquidated damages of $1,500 per day until they reach “substantial completion.” The official start date of the project was February 2015 and the scheduled completion date for the contract was October 16th, 2015."
Well, work was still going on well into November.
If you want to contact Wadley just click here. Wadley's Las Vegas phone number is 702=597-1010.
And get this -- I understand there's more road construction on the scenic drive. Let's just hope Wadley isn't in charge of that job.