NDOT looks at raising speed limit south of Gardnerville
County commissioner Bernie Curtis said the safety of his constituents south of Gardnerville is his biggest worry with the Nevada Department of Transportation’s study to raise speed limits on the stretch of Highway 395 between Riverview and Holbrook.
Ed Wilson of NDOT said his agency has been monitoring the stretch of highway at 29 different sites to determine at what speed 85 percent of the drivers who use the road deem to be safe.
“Drivers generally drive at what speed they think is safe for the road,” said Wilson.
Curtis said his constituents in Ruhenstroth, Riverview, Bodie Flats, Fish Springs and other areas along the stretch of Highway 395 must enter and exit the highway. He said higher speed limits would make this even more dangerous.
“If they increase the speed limit and they don’t obey it now, then they’re going to drive even faster,” said Curtis. “If they raise it to 65 mph, then we’ll be sending a message that you won’t get in trouble until you drive 75 mph.”
Wilson said the speed limit is not just determined by what people drive. Other factors such as school bus stops, pedestrian crossing and residential areas are taken into account.
Curtis said there are a lot of young families that live in the area, along with many older citizens who generally don’t drive especially quickly. With the numerous accidents in the area already each year, Curtis said he is afraid that a higher speed limit will increase the accident tally.
Wilson said many factors contribute to the large number of accidents in the area, but he said speed is not usually one of them.
“Most are alcohol-related,” said Wilson.
NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said it is inattentive drivers along with drunk drivers who cause most of the accidents in the area, not speed.
“I’ve seen a couple of accidents in Double Spring where speed was definitely a factor,” said Curtis, referring to his law enforcement days prior to his post as a commissioner.
Curtis said he was recently at a Topaz Lake Home owners meeting which approximately 50 residents attended.
“Only two were for the increase in speed limits,” said Curtis.
Wilson said the NDOT study, in which the Nevada Highway Patrol has also been participating, will be finished soon.
“Before anything happens, we’ll talk to all folks who represent the citizenry,” Wilson said, insisting the residential areas along the highway will be considered in any action taken.
Wilson insisted that NDOT will not be raising the speed levels at which motorists travel in the area, only the speed limits.
“We’re almost making normally law-abiding citizens law breakers,” said Magruder of the current speed limits.
“I’d hate to be part of an experiment that could go wrong,” Curtis said.