Historic Road
Heavy equipment operators with the White Sands Missile Range Department of Public Works North Stallion Crew have been spending their day working in the desert in the northern part of the range repairing roads that lead to a WSMR historic site. (Photo Credit: Jose Salazar) VIEW ORIGINAL

Heavy equipment operators with the White Sands Missile Range Department of Public Works North Stallion Crew have been spending their day working in the desert in the northern part of the range repairing roads that lead to a WSMR historic site.

Everett Salazar, Zachary Ortega, Layne Lewis, Danny Caldwell, and Daniel Lopez, heavy equipment operator crew with WSMR North Stallion, have been working on filling the road that leads to the Schmidt/McDonald Ranch House near Trinity Site repairing roads that had been washed away by recent rains.

The Schmidt/McDonald Ranch House, which is two miles from Ground Zero at Trinity Site, is where the plutonium core was assembled. The two hemispheres of plutonium were delivered to the ranch house on July 12, 1945. Trinity Site is where the first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945.

Salazar said they had to fill holes big enough to fit one of their tractors. They have been moving dirt from the surrounding area and bringing it in to fill those holes.

Shane Paz, Roads and Grounds Chief with DPW North, said WSMR North is repairing RR341 to the Miller Watch area.

“This area of the Range was hit by tremendous amounts of rain fall and storm water runoff from the Oscura Mountains this last monsoon season,” Paz said.

He said top material Base Course all the way down to subbase was washed away causing great amounts of erosion to the road and bar ditches and carrying sand and silt not suitable for building roads.

“Crews had to remove all the burden material and replace with good subbase material to reconstruct the road.”

The final step will be to resurface with Base Course. Base Course in pavements refers to the sub-layer material of an asphalt roadway and is placed directly on top of the undisturbed soil (Sub-Grade) so as to provide a foundation to support the top layers of the pavement. It is typically made of a recipe of different sizes of aggregate rock inclusive of 1″ to fine dust.

“To help prevent this amount of damage in the future crews will be reconstructing bar ditches with longer slope out further away from the road bed, as well as elevating the road bed to prevent water from running over and causing erosion damage,” Paz said.

He said there are many important factors in keeping the road open, passable and safe for vehicle traffic i.e. missions, emergency response, alternate routes to and from test sites, just to name a few. Maintenance of that road is also crucial for the annual Trinity Site Open House, where buses take guests back and forth from Trinity Site to the Ranch House.