Tohono O'odham Nation of Arizona


The winding, treacherous 60-year-old road between Three Points and Why has extremely narrow lanes, with no shoulders or pullouts for stranded motorists. Crosses and shrines placed at the scenes of such tragedies - more than 100, by several tribal police counts - line the roadway, stark white paint and colorful wreaths contrast sharply with the desert vegetation. It claimed at least 21 people in more than 200 accidents in the last five years. Yet when the Arizona Department of Transportation released its five-year highway construction plan this year, the 100-mile stretch of Arizona 86 wasn't listed - angering the O'odham and prompting the tribe's representatives to speak out at the last state Transportation Board meeting in Tucson this spring. "I don't think we can continue with another five years the way Highway 86 is now," Tohono O'odham Chairman Edward Manuel said. The Nation offered to help ADOT pay for a $600,000 study - the next step in getting the roadway widened - to identify the design improvements the road needs. A corridor study by ADOT concluded the road needed more than $80 million in improvements. Arizona 86 started out as a stagecoach road in the 1920s and was widened in the 1940s to accommodate automobiles.