Study: 395 congestion to increase
Douglas County’s exponential growth, together with the additional commuter traffic along Highway 395, could add up to serious congestion and delays in the next five years unless something is done, according to numbers provided by the Nevada Department of Transportation.
The highway will carry an estimated 32,000 average daily trips in 2010 and commuters will experience unstable flow that is near capacity, the Western Nevada Transportation Study said.
“That’s not quite gridlocked but it’s definitely congested,” said Scott Magruder, spokesman for the Department.
The numbers are expected to climb to 39,000 by 2020, up from an average of 25,900 cars traveling the same stretch of highway in 2000.
The 2004 traffic figures are not available yet, according to department officials.
“It’s hard to say when traffic is really going to get bad in Northern Nevada,” said Dennis Taylor, chief of the department’s program development division. “We might anticipate a 15 percent growth rate in Douglas County and two years later, we check the numbers and the actual growth rate was 40 percent.”
The county’s traffic woes are no surprise to Ross Chichester, member of the Minden Town Board.
“In 1987 when the four-lane highway was built, everyone thought it would last 50 years,” he said. “But the area is growing and more people are commuting to Reno and Carson City. Traffic is definitely bad.”
“If we didn’t get traffic complaints, we’d have almost none,” said Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini. “It’s a big issue here.”
To address that issue, transportation officials are initiating a study that will focus on Highway 395 traffic from Carson City south to the Nevada/California border.
It would be premature to say what improvements will be recommended following completion of the study, which will begin in July and should be completed by 2006, Taylor said.
“We could be adding frontage roads, lights, or route alternatives. The study will take an in-depth look at the whole corridor,” he said. “We’ve identified the stakeholders and we’ll be involving them in the process, in addition to hosting a number of public meetings to gather input.”
Douglas County residents can also expect a spokesman from the department to address the problems at a county commission meeting in May, Taylor said.
“We recognize the fact that something has to be done,” he said. “We’re going to be as proactive as possible to prevent any adverse negative impact and mitigate any delay.”
The Department statistics, available on the Nevada Department of Transportation Web site, include roads other than Highway 395. The following are just a few of the average daily counts for 2003.
— Traffic counts dwindle significantly along Highway 395 from the Carson County line south to Topaz Lake, from a high of 36,500 north of the Jacks Valley Road intersection to a low of 4,300 at the Nevada/California state line.
— Daily trips on Highway 395 totalled about 30,500 around Stephanie Way and Genoa and Muller lanes in 2003. Near Sixth Street in Minden the count dropped to 26,500. Near the junction of Palomino Lane in the Ruhenstroth area, the Highway 395 count dropped to 8,900.
— Near Topaz Lake, traffic increased by just 455 cars a day, from 3,845 in 1994 to 4,300 in 2003. The traffic in north Douglas County along commercial row increased by about 10,000 average daily trips during the same period.
— Traffic at the base of Kingsbury Grade rose slightly, from 4,635 to 5,550 trips between 1994 and 2003.
— Traffic doubled along Jacks Valley Road near Alpine View Court in 10 years, from 1,120 to 2,200 trips per day.
— On Foothill Road near Genoa, the numbers increased from 1,815 in 1995 to 2,700 in 2003.
Susie Vasquez can be reached at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.