Carson Valley residents attending a town hall meeting Monday to discuss the intersection at Highway 88 and Centerville Lane want a traffic light, but anything that improves safety at the intersection would be welcome.
Nevada Department of Transportation traffic engineer Ish Garza told the audience of more than 50 people in the old courthouse in Minden that a traffic light wasn’t the right answer for the intersection.
Garza said the intersection would have just as many collisions as a traffic signal, but instead of being at an angle they would be rear-end accidents.
Members of the crowd weren’t buying it, though.
Many related stories about being in accidents or near misses at the intersection that one woman described as having a weird negative energy.
The woman, widowed at the intersection when motorcyclist Craig Ducar was killed in July 2011 when another driver failed to spot him, demanded a traffic signal.
“You’re destroying lives,” Julie Summerville said.
Julian Larrouy, who has been a Centerville resident for 71 years, said that speeding up to the intersection is a problem.
“I can guarantee you that people are not going the speed limit when they enter that intersection,” he said. “Another problem is that right turn lane. At least a roundabout would slow traffic down.”
Garza told the crowd that neither the number of crashes nor the traffic congestion at the intersection would justify a traffic light. He presented figures that showed only 21 accidents at the intersection over five years, with Ducar’s being the only fatal accident.
But members of the audience disputed the figures, and answered with their own stories, including the woman who was helicoptered for treatment after two accidents, or the Douglas High School student who was struck broadside and had to climb from her vehicle.
Former New Jersey police officer and Chambers Field resident Walter Campbell said the intersection is confusing.
“My children and grandchildren use that intersection 15-25 times a week,” he said. “There’s no way you can attach a dollar sign to their lives. They are in jeopardy every day at that intersection. A traffic light at that intersection would make it a lot less confusing and reduce the jeopardy.”
One woman suggested reducing the number of obstructions along the highway to improve visibility.
Garza said a traffic light would cost $300,000 to install at the intersection if it did meet the requirements. A roundabout costs around $1 million and would require additional right of way. Garza said it would take up to five years to complete if it was approved.
However he told the crowd that the intersection is in competition for resources from others all over the state.
The town hall was organized by county commissioner Lee Bonner.