Douglas County residents want a traffic light at Stephanie Way.
The message rang loud and clear Saturday at a special meeting hosted by Nevada's Department of Transportation concerning issues on Highway 395 between Carson City and Highway 88.
"Highway 395 in Douglas County is operating like a freeway, but it's a road with access to businesses and homeowners. It has to be one way or the other," said Gardnerville resident Terri Chambers.
"Does the driver turning right see me? Am I giving the driver making the left-hand turn enough time?" she asked. "Drivers must make too many decisions."
Chambers' 17-year-old daughter Bridget died in an accident at Stephanie Way and Highway 395 on July 15 when Forrest Ladd, a 79-year-old Minden resident, struck Chamber's car while he was attempting to make a left turn onto Stephanie Way.
Failure to yield the right-of-way and driver inattention are two of the three most prevalent reasons for fatal accidents in Nevada, led only by drunken driving, according to a study by the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said Tuesday that a light will most likely be installed at Stephanie Lane.
The issues surrounding that installation should be addressed at an upcoming meeting of the Douglas County Commissioners to work out funding and other issues.
He estimated the cost of the light at around $200,000.
However, traffic lights are not always a solution, according to transportation officials.
From 2000 to 2004, rear-end collisions have increased dramatically where traffic lights are used, primarily in north Douglas County between Plymouth Drive and Carson City.
From Plymouth Drive south to Muller Lane, the accident rate is highest at Johnson Lane, the only intersection with a signal.
"Traffic signals interrupt the flow and back up traffic," said DOT spokeswoman Sue Newberry. "There will be more rear-end accidents, more delays and lots of complaints."
At Saturday's meeting, some residents preferred a full signal rather than half-signal like the one at Johnson Lane.
Most agreed the light is a short-term solution, considering the burgeoning growth in the valley, and more long-term solutions need to be considered.
Terri Chambers said an overpass would be ideal, but could take years. Rancher Arnold Settelmeyer agreed.
"Traffic planning should be 20 years ahead of the master plan," he said. "It takes that long to get something going."
Residents were asked to vote for their primary concerns from issues they defined. In that vote, a light at Stephanie was the highest priority with 24 votes.
As the next two highest priorities, 21 voters wanted a full- rather than half-signal, and 15 voted for a safe solution at Stephanie.
Newberry said a new Web site addressing the issues should soon be up at www.douglascounty395.com, offering information and an opportunity for comments.
Residents with concerns are also invited to contact Coy Peacock, coordinator for the Program Development Division, at 888-7124.
n Contact reporter Susie Vasquez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 211.