US 191 from Morenci to Alpine won't face closure

Morenci, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A popular stretch of road between Morenci and Alpine could have faced closure.

On this stretch of US 191, traffic is few and far between. Around eighty cars a day hit the highway each day. That's about five cars an hour over a span of sixteen hours.

"When you get out in the mountains, you don't want bumper to bumper traffic," said Robert Craig Blacker.

He has always appreciated the little traffic on the road.
Blacker and his son, Charles Blacker, have hit the Coronado Trail for decades.
Together, they have fond memories of their time on the trail. The two often utilized the road to visit grandparents.

Last year, US 191 could have faced its demise. In October of last year, talk of its closure came about after a low volume route study by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The report stated the stretch of highway was expensive to maintain, especially for the little amount of travelers it sees daily. Its upkeep after a harsh winter costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After word spread of its possible future, locals stepped up to pledge their support.

"We always felt like Greenlee County is one of the best kept secrets in Arizona," said Richard Lunt, the District 3 Supervisor for Greenlee County.

Law enforcement went on the defense, rallying against the possible closure. Both Apache County and Greenlee County argued they were concerned about the safety of their citizens.

Officials with the AZ Department of Transportation came out saying there are no plans to close this road at all. If anything were to change, they would have to consult with the community first.

For now, locals and tourists alike can take in the scenery the area has to offer.