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No traffic signal for Minden

by Sheila Gardner

Turned down again for a traffic signal at Ironwood Drive and Highway 395, Minden Town Board members agreed Wednesday to press for a signal farther south on Highway 88 at the County Road.

The intersection is shared by the high school, swim center, paramedics station and several office buildings.

“We have a political action committee that won’t quit,” said town attorney George Keele, referring to the entities at the intersection supporting a signal.

The town has been lobbying for a signal at the intersection for several years and all parties have deposited money to pay for a light, but the Nevada Department of Transportation maintains that “warrants,” or conditions at the intersection don’t meet state standards for a traffic signal.

“This is the highest absurdity I know,” said town chair Bob Hadfield. “We keep asking, keep wondering. This is litigation waiting to happen. If my kid got hit trying to cross that street, I’d own everybody.”

Hadfield’s comments followed an earlier presentation by engineer Rob Anderson on behalf of clients who want to build an office complex farther south down Highway 88. Originally, the state said the development could include limited access from the highway. But, according to Anderson, state traffic officials OK’d plans for unlimited access if the entrance intersects with Highway 88 at Aspen Grove Circle, a private road into a small housing development.

Keele said one reason the state thinks the Ironwood intersection doesn’t warrant a light is because traffic activity doesn’t reflect neighborhood patterns. Drivers, he said, take shortcuts and alternate routes to avoid turning north on Highway 395 from Ironwood.

“For anyone who lives in Westwood Village, or who has the need to turn north onto Highway 395 from Ironwood Drive occasionally, practical experience and engineering theory must appear to clash,” Keele wrote in his report to the board.

“NDOT suggests there is ‘unlimited sight distance;’ however, reality suggests otherwise, especially if reality consists of a family in a 7-passenger van headed to Carson City with a load of 10-year-old children who are going bowling,” he said.

Keele disputed NDOT’s contention that there is an appropriate “gap” in traffic which gives drivers enough time to turn onto the highway.

The NDOT report concluded that the same results have been produced in seven previous studies in eight years at the Ironwood intersection and recommended that the intersection not be studied until “significant development” occurs.

The board authorized town engineer Bruce Scott to conduct a study of the County Road-Highway 88 intersection to entice the state to look at the traffic at that location.

Keele said NDOT indicated that intersection may be closer to meeting warrants because of the pedestrian traffic.

n Water rate hike. In other action Wednesday, the town authorized an 8 percent increase in water rates. Effective July 1, a residential customer will pay $20.52 per month compared to the current $19. Rates have not been raised since 1996, but operating expenses in the past five years have increased 16 percent, according to town figures.

The increase was passed after two public hearings generated little or no public comment.

n Espresso stand. The board also approved plans for a drive-through espresso stand on Highway 395 at the old Copeland Lumber property. Owners Mike and Lynda Mellows of Minden said the 240-square-foot building will be drive-up or walk-up only with no indoor seating.

“Minden is about ready for one of these,” Mike Mellows told the board. “We want to do a first class job.”