CARSON CITY - Joking that Nevada needs to attract visitors from other worlds, Transportation Board members unanimously decided Thursday to designate Highway 375 as the state's official ~Extraterrestrial Highway."
Since only 95 vehicles travel on the rural road about 140 miles north of Las Vegas in a typical day, Gov. Bob Miller said it will be easy to determine if the special designation is a boon to-tourism.
He suggested to Transportation Director Thomas Stephens that some of the signs denoting the Extraterrestrial Highway be placed flat on the ground so aliens "can land there."
Stephens said the department intends to put up four 3-foot by 8-foot signs that cost a total of $3,360. The signs would be erected at Rachel and other locations along the 98-mile highway that runs from Warm Springs to Hiko.
He said the big signs will be well anchored and placed only near inhabited areas so "they aren't stolen every five minutes."
The Extraterrestrial Highway is just north of the Nevada Test Site and the Area 51 base where the Air Force is believed to have tested the stealth, U-2 and other aircraft.
Unidentified flying object buffs claim that an alien hurt in a crash near Roswell, N.M., was taken to Area 51. Fox Television last year showed film of an autopsy being performed on the purported alien.
The Transportation Board's action is in sharp contrast to the Legislature. The Assembly last year passed a bill to designate an "Alien Extraterrestrial Highway," but the measure never received a vote in the Senate.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Bill O'Donnell, R-Las Vegas, blocked a vote, saying the Legislature had more important matters to consider.
But tourism officials in rural counties began to lobby the Tourism Commission and Transportation Board to approve the designation.
John Riggs, a member of E Campus Vitus, a fraternal organization known for its prankish behavior, told Transportation Board members they were making history.
"People will go out of their way to drive the road", Riggs said. "Nobody in this country or world has done this. Those people who believe in flying saucers will visit."
A man who calls himself Merlin II and claims he is an extraterrestrial also pitched for the designation. His real name is David Solomon.
"All kinds of tourists from all kinds of places will visit," said Merlin II, who originally asked the Legislature to designate the alien highway.
"Some of the people visiting might not come in cars," Miller replied.
Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren, also a board member, said the board was not trying to override the Legislature.
He said the Legislature tends to "micromanage state government" and road designations should be made by the Transportation Board.
"Anything we can do to promote tourism is wonderful," he said. "We do have a sense of humor in Nevada."
Other Transportation Board members voting for the designation included Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa and Controller Darrel Daines.
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Last modified: 02/15/96