No traffic light for Ironwood |

No traffic light for Ironwood

by Christy Chalmers

The Nevada Department of Transportation says Ironwood Drive still isn’t ready for a traffic light, though motorists may disagree.

Scott Thorson, NDOT’s chief traffic engineer, said Monday that the agency’s latest traffic count at the Highway 395-Ironwood Drive intersection showed the site hasn’t met any of the 11 conditions, or warrants, that the state requires for installation of a signal.

The need for a signal “is more of a perception” than a reality, Thorson said.

“I’ve been there in the morning, at lunch and in the evening, and I’ve hardly ever seen more than two cars waiting to get out, and most of them are making right turns,” he said. “It’s all relative to what you’re used to. If you’re used to getting out right away and you have to wait 30 seconds, it may seem like five minutes.”

NDOT has been monitoring the intersection since 1998, when Ironwood Drive was extended east of the highway to serve the Minden Medical Center. NDOT engineers expected the center to generate enough traffic to justify a light, but that hasn’t happened, possibly because motorists take Ironwood east to Lucerne Drive instead of using Highway 395 to go south.

Still, residents of the Westwood subdivision, as well as county and town leaders, have lobbied for a light.

Town of Minden attorney George Keele recently suggested that the town board contact NDOT regarding the warrants to be met for signals at Highway 395 and Ironwood, as well as County Road and Highway 88.

“We need to get NDOT to tell us what we’re confronted with,” he said.

Thorson said he’s willing to do that. The 11 warrants cover statistics such as accidents, pedestrian use, interruptions to traffic flow, school crossing and peak hour delays.

Thorson said the only warrant the Highway 395-Ironwood traffic is close to meeting is the peak hour volume, with 34 highway crossings or left turns onto the highway from Ironwood. At least 100 are needed to meet that particular warrant, he said.

“Most of the people coming off of Ironwood are making right turns, and you can do that without a signal pretty easily,” said Thorson. “There just isn’t a lot of traffic on the side streets, and that’s what’s going to trigger (a warrant).”

Thorson said NDOT will continue monitoring the intersection. He said traffic studies are conducted every three to six months based on factors like new businesses and motorists’ complaints.