By Al Bravo
The city of Apache Junction and Pinal County —with guidance from the Arizona State Land Department—is closing an undeveloped dirt path in the northeastern corner of the city.
The trail, labeled as “Mountain View Road,” has been determined to be unsafe for travel and will be accessible only on foot or by horseback after June 25 as fencing will be installed in the area.
“This was never intended to be a road but has become a trail connecting two developed roads,” said Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt trying to navigate this area.”
The pathway connects Mountain View north of Superstition Boulevard and State Route 88 (Apache Trail). It is completely contained within the city limits and is owned by the Arizona State Land Department and is located next to residents of unincorporated Pinal County.
“We are ensuring the safety of our citizens by closing the area off to vehicle traffic,” said Pinal County Supervisor Todd House, who represents the area. “Until resources are found to develop the area, this is the best solution for all involved.”
In 2008, the State Land Department sent the city of Apache Junction a notice informing the city it was trespassing for maintaining “an extremely primitive level historic roadway” primarily for Pinal County resident access to the Superstition Foothills and the Mining Camp neighborhood. The state was responding to the city asking the state to dustproof the roads due to complaints. The city stopped road maintenance after significant monsoon storms.
The city removed all of its signs on the property and placed “primitive roadway/not city-maintained or controlled” signage at every access point. The county has since received complaints from nearby residents about the excess dust.
Since 2016, county elected officials approached the city in an effort to address the situation.
“The county and the city discussed many options but none satisfied both the city and county needs due to economics, liability, engineering and drainage considerations,” Serdy said.
Until the state opens up the property for private development through the mandated bidding process, it is in the best interest of the state to protect this land from illegal dumping, off-road motorized use and camping as other state land within the city limits has been protected.
So the city will be placing fencing typically used for state lands at roadway entrance points. Some of these access points could have equestrian cross-overs and hiker cut-outs.