Kurt Hildebrand

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November 2, 2012
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County will leave median in place

Saying that shortening a median on Highway 395 south of Gardnerville would take more than a month and without any guarantee it would stay fixed, Douglas County commissioners voted Friday to leave it alone.

"The best possible solution is on the ground," Commissioner Greg Lynn said, supporting leaving the median in place. "You have engineers telling you that changing it will create a traffic hazard, and I don't have any appetite to increase the hazard there."

County Engineer Erik Nilssen told commissioners that seven professional engineers have reviewed the plans to remove the portion of the median north of Service Drive and all agree leaving it alone is the best solution.

Nilssen said it's estimated to cost the county $72,000 to remove the northern portion of the median.

Commissioner Mike OIson argued in favor of removing the northern portion of the median, but could not get any traction with the rest of the board.

Commissioner Doug Johnson, who was an early proponent of removing the median, said that the time and effort it took to do the job was a factor.

"When we first discussed this I thought we would scrape up the median at Service Drive and be done," he said.

Johnson asked when the traffic signal and Grant Drive would be completed providing an alternative, and Nilssen said the work's done, but the roads are being used by the workers building the Walmart.

Once open, Grant Avenue will provide an alternative route to Service Drive and a safer means for traffic to turn left onto Highway 395.

Walmart was required to build the 880-foot median as part of its traffic plan.

The median was installed nearly overnight in mid-September prompting an outcry by businesses on Service Drive, including Ahern Rentals and Carquest.

Just over a month after the median was installed, commissioners approved a plan to cut a hole in the median so motorists traveling south on Highway 395 could turn left at Service Drive. Now they must go down to the turn lane at Grant Avenue and make a u-turn. That idea would have cost the county $50,000. Because the median was required by the state, Walmart would not have to contribute to its removal.

That proposal was shot down by the state last week. A new plan to remove the northern portion of the median was proposed by Nevada Department of Transportation Director Rudy Malfabon.

In a letter to the county, engineer R.O. Anderson said the alteration wouldn't provide adequate safety for motorists using the intersection.

Carquest representative Sandy Timmons told commissioners she agreed that making a left turn out of Service Drive onto Highway 395 is a risky proposition.

"That whole area needs to have a slower speed limit," Timmons said. "But you should at least let us turn left onto Service Drive from Highway 395."

Lynn said that the public will get used to the median and using Grant to access Service Drive, just as people got used to the County Road roundabout.

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The Record Courier Updated Nov 4, 2012 01:11AM Published Nov 2, 2012 08:12PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.