Mckelligon Canyon the next Mass Casualty

Over the past three years I’ve visited Mckelligon Canyon as a form of physical training.

Mckelligon Canyon being 5.75 miles long from Alabama to the top and back down. On certain days or physical training days for Ft. Bliss personell, EPPD, EP Fire Dept, and Border Patrol, Mckelligon Canyon can be overwhelmed with vehicles and people similar to what we see on popular Cool Canyon Nights events.

Mckelligon and Seamon

Particularly the intersection of Mckelligon and Seamon drive become “clogged” with people who are in the middle of the intersection impeding the arrival and departure of vehicles from the CEMEX Quarry during the early morning hours.

The whole road on Seamon from VFW 812 down to Alabama becomes filled with vehicles and at times it would seriously cause issues for any type of emergency vehicles Ambulance/Fire Trucks to get down the road. Uneven areas of the road on Seamon going to VFW 812 has on occasion claimed various vehicle parts.

Bathroom facilities, there is only one bathroom located near the top of Mckelligon Canyon across from the Ranger Station and doesn’t open till about 7:30 a.m. In the meantime there’s the bathroom at 7-11 or maybe the Day Care facility. Individuals at times can been see going off the road to relieve themselves.

Ranger HQ and Bathrooms

Pets, at times Mckelligon Canyon has been used as a dumping ground for family pets. I recall an incident where a poodle was dumped in the arroyo right after the big hill. Many people tried to rescue the dog and over a period of time unfortunately it became prey to one of the predators that reside in the Canyon.

Ft. Bliss and Physical Training (PT) days. Ft. Bliss is one of the primary users of Mckelligon Canyon as it offers a challenge for Army Personnel. As a Veteran I have no issues with PT provided there is some type of “safety” involved in the process.

I witness up to Brigade size units mulling around the intersection of Mckelligon and Seamon with zero accountability with regards to safety of their personnel. During my time in the Military we had road guards, medic, military vehicle and ambulance for those who may have “issues” during PT.

Example of lack of parking

Ft Bliss has a number of “Combat Arms” units that utilize Mckelligon Canyon from Infantry, Airborne, Air Assualt, and Armor. This comes with multiple tours or deployments and alpha personalities. Those personalities has translated into confrontations with Park Rangers and various road rage incidents.

Bathrooms, the way to resolve the issue would be to aquire the former Moe’s BBQ that has been vacant for quite some time and create a public bathroom with security present. There is next to zero available during the early morning hours.

Former Moe’s BBQ location
Gonzalez and Dee Dee

I’ve been in contact with City Manager, Mayors office and our City Representatives since Oct 2018 explaining this serious public safety concern. During this time the “ONLY” Representative who has taken interest has been Ms. Annello District 2 who went as far as to conduct an assessment of the area in late Oct/Nov 2018. We have a City Representative with ties to the LEO Community Mr. Rivera and Dr Sam Morgan who is the liaison to Ft. Bliss both can address this serious issue and take action.

Mayor Margo consistently states “waddya expect me to do”? From a former State Representative and interim EPISD Trustee you would think he would take some “initiative” for a change.

City Manager Gonzalez says we should be “pissed off”. The people of El Paso have been “pissed off” for quite awhile and this particular issue has fallen on deaf ears at least since Oct 2018.

This particular situation is ripe for the next “mass casualty” situation given the amount of people, vehicles and dynamic that takes place there. I’ve witnessed shouting matches between military personnel and Park Rangers, wrong way drivers and various near misses from the dump trucks weighing several tons. Do we have to wait till the event manifests itself in order to take action?

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