NDOT says no stop light near high school
Nevada Department of Transportation officials say there is no possibility of installing a stoplight at the intersection of Highway 88 and County Road, but there are other options they can discuss with residents, including a roundabout.
A town meeting will be the forum for discussion about traffic controls at what many term the “scary” intersection near Douglas High School.
At a small meeting Friday afternoon at the high school, organized because of questions raised by a parent-teacher group, NDOT officials spoke with Town of Minden representatives and Principal Charlie Condron.
“This is an issue near and dear to our hearts,” Condron said. “I was principal here less than two weeks before we had what I consider a near-fatal accident. We really see it as a safety issue for this whole corridor. We’re an anxious group who are probably not satisfied with ‘we can’t do anything.'”
NDOT Chief Safety Engineer Fred Droes said while officials aren’t closing their ears to other options, a traffic signal is not possible.
“The department of transportation adopted the official uniform traffic manual which includes 11 signal warrants. That intersection doesn’t meet any of them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other things we can do,” Droes said. “I don’t want you to think we don’t care about your concerns. But signals don’t solve all your problems. It’s a liability for the state to put in something that’s not warranted. So we need to look at other ways to relieve some of the problems.”
He said the traffic warrants include approach speeds, total vehicle volume, numbers of vehicles crossing the intersection, backup of traffic, accidents, peak-hour delay and peak-hour volume. The area must meet the warrants over an eight-hour period. The County Road-Highway 88 intersection meets none of the warrants.
“We sat there at the intersection yesterday morning and the amazing thing is at 7:20 it starts clogging up and stays that way only until 7:40 a.m. What we have here is a problem early in the morning, at noon and in the afternoon,” Droes said.
The group discussed other options, such as changing the entrances and exits at the high school, widening the entrances and exits and adding stop signs. But Droes said the most effective control would be replacing the intersection with a roundabout, which would slow traffic to 25 mph and make it easier for people to turn onto Highway 88. He said a signal usually costs $150,000 to $200,000, while the roundabout in Carson City cost $60,000.
“(Roundabouts) are coming more and more because we find them to be very effective. We don’t see delays, and people have to slow down to get through them,” Droes said.
“That’s one of the issues, because people are coming off of speeds like 55 mph and they are rarely doing 35,” Condron said. “That’s a pretty high speed to make a guess at pulling out into that traffic.”
Minden Town Manager Sheila Byington said town board members informally discussed the idea of a roundabout at the intersection, but it never went anywhere. She did agree to have a discussion of the warrants and all the options for the intersection at a town meeting March 7. The meeting will be at the CVIC Hall at 6 p.m.
Droes said if anyone would like to see how a roundabout works, they can visit the one at Fifth Street and Edmonds Drive in Carson City.
“I’m encouraged they are willing to help and look at different options. I would like to see (a roundabout) working or even a video of it happening somewhere else. I can tell it’s going to be a long process,” said parent Cathy Rahe.
Droes said there is a plywood model of the Carson City roundabout and videos of other cities’ roundabouts which can be viewed by the public. Byington expressed concern for the elderly residents of the Westwood subdivision, which is behind the high school, who might feel trepidation about driving through a roundabout. Droes said an educational process about driving in a roundabout is possible. He also said a temporary roundabout can be built to allow time for community feedback.
“It is very good strictly from an engineering standpoint – it makes sense – but it may not be what the community wants,” Droes said.