Thumbs up for Lee Vining landscaping

It’s bureaucracy at its best: a decade-plus wait to plant shrubs and flowers in a tiny town whose main street is also  a national highway.

So when Lee Vining finally got the thumbs up to get started on a street -scaping project this week, a project that had languished for more than a decade, it was a good thing indeed.
Even though the hoped-for trade-off with Caltrans to take on the snow removal for the street in exchange for some striping of county roads was nowhere to be seen.
The bottom line, according to Mono County public works official Kelley Garcia, is that the project will go forward, but the county will have to do its own striping, at an expected cost of about $20,000 for the 10 miles the county had hoped to cover.
“We will get them to reimburse us for the snow removal ($7,000 a year), but their attorneys recently said that the agency could not do any work outside their right-of-ways (in other words, on county roads),” she said.
Because Lee Vining’s Main Street is also a highway, the small community faces the same issues Mammoth does with SR 203 – how to make the road both attractive to visitors and safe enough to meet Caltrans public safety requirements.
The proposal to do the trade has been on the books for years, with various degrees of approval by Caltrans until a recent decision by an agency attorney took the option out of the loop.
Landscaping the streets of Lee Vining, a project long awaited by community members, is expected to begin immediately, with completion expected before the snow flies.

Caption: The 30th annual Tioga Pass Run starts out in Lee Vining with five-time winner Dan Yarborough at the head of the pack. The town finally got the OK to landscape its main street, after a decade of waiting. Photo by Dick Erb