No stop lights for Minden intersections, NDOT says
Minden resident Peggy Shearer has a surefire way of convincing the Nevada Department of Transportation traffic lights are needed at two tricky Minden intersections.
“Next time you do your study, let people know, and we won’t make all those right-hand turns,” she said.
The result, she predicted, will be the accidents, waiting times, car volumes and other factors NDOT considers before approving traffic signals.
NDOT officials came to Minden Wednesday to discuss alternatives for controlling traffic where County Road and Mahogany Drive meet Highway 88, as well as a few hundred yards north, where Ironwood Drive crosses Highway 395.
Residents have asked for signals at both intersections, claiming left turns onto the highways are nearly impossible to safely make during rush hours. Instead, motorists make right turns onto the highways, then cut back through neighborhoods to rejoin the roads, or make U-turns to go north.
“The problem is, we’re diverting traffic around where they really want to go,” said Minden Town Board Chairman Ross Chichester.
“Something needs to be done,” said Douglas High School Principal Charlie Condron, noting many of his 1,400 students cross the County Road-Highway 88 junction each school day. “We’ve got to do something to protect the kids and the members of this community.”
But NDOT officials say a light isn’t an option, because neither intersection consistently meets any of the 11 warrants, or requirements, for a light.
“If I put one in and it doesn’t meet a warrant and someone gets hurt, we’re liable,” said Scott Thorson, traffic engineering section chief for NDOT.
“There are times of the day I wouldn’t be comfortable crossing that (Ironwood-395) intersection, but you have to understand, just because there’s a signal doesn’t mean there won’t be a death,” said Fred Droes, chief safety engineer for NDOT.
A roundabout, which funnels traffic through a circle with exits to the adjacent roads, is a possibility on Highway 88. Though residents had numerous questions about how a roundabout would work and whether one could safely accommodate different kinds of traffic, leaders said they’re willing to consider one.
“I think it’s worth exploring,” said County Commission Chairman Bernie Curtis. “The stop lights aren’t going to happen.”
Droes said NDOT can host workshops on roundabouts to see if residents are interested. The agency won’t install a roundabout without county and town approval, he said.
Roundabouts have been installed successfully elsewhere in the region, including in Carson City at the corner of Fifth Street and Edmonds Drive. The roundabout replaced a four-way stop sign and reduced congestion during peak hours without an increase in accidents, NDOT officials said.
Roundabouts are also cheaper than traffic lights and require less maintenance, they said.
No dates were set for future roundabout discussions.