- Published on Saturday, 27 June 2009 00:00
- Written by Heather Fisher
I have contacted Denis Cederburg of Clark County Public Works about this issue and will post any developments here. In researching this, I was told that Denis would be the one to talk to because NDOT has no jurisdiction over a county road, even one connecting two state highways with inadequate access.
from a letter I wrote to Denis and cc'd Susan Martinovich:
On July 1st the speed limit in Red Rock Canyon will be reduced. We are very grateful for this, but we will need some accompanying safety measures to reinforce/encourage people to drive the new lower speed limit. NDOT has a couple of things planned which will be good, but this particular issue is outside their jurisdiction. Clark County could help to improve the safety in Red Rock Canyon with something as simple as closing Avery Street to through traffic. This could be a very effective measure if timed in conjunction with the implementation of the new Safety Speed zone(July 1, 2009) because it would provide additional awareness and affect driver behavior at the most volatile and impressionable time. Please read more about it on the email I sent to NDOT (below) and let me know what you think.
from a letter I sent to Mary Martini and Bob McKenzie at NDOT
I was wondering what measures you are going to use to enforce and encourage the new lower speed limit? According to your engineers, a lower speed limit doesn't work unless it is accompanied by additional measures, so I was just wondering if you could tell me what a few of those additional measures will be? I have a suggestion for one additional measure which could help, but which may have to come from Clark County as it is about a county road.
Bar one side of Avery Street.
Your traffic engineers advise that the most danger comes from disparity in speeds. The two extremes on 159 are usually the high speed commuters using it as a throughway and the tourist/visitors using it as a destination road. The vast majority of the high speed commuters are traveling via the Avery Street cutoff (the street going between SR 159 and SR 160 one-half mile west of the 159/160 junction). If Avery Street can be blocked off to through traffic, then those commuters would find it better to use the safer, more appropriate 159/160 junction and/or just keep going straight to Las Vegas on the 160 or 215. Accidents would also decrease on both highways where they are now caused by the lack of turning lanes, and drivers would be more apt to see the new Safety Speed Zone signage at the more appropriate junction. A simple roadway shift on Avery Street from through traffic to resident use only (by blocking one side of the road), would serve to reinforce the new Safety Speed Zone.
- excessive use of Avery Street, used as a shortcut (bypassing jct. 159/160)
- only 5 homes on Avery Street. All residents want it closed to through traffic.
- There are no turning lanes on either state highway at Avery Street. Vehicles turning onto Avery Street from both 159 and 160 have to come to a stop in the single drive lane of both highways, slowing down and/or stopping long lines of fast moving traffic.
- Some vehicles passing stopped cars on 159 and 160 who are trying to turn into Avery, use the bike lanes for passing (I was nearly killed this way once.)
- speeding (way above the posted residential speed limit) by most drivers across Avery Street, making it very dangerous for the residents, kids, and pets who live there.
- In one hour, 59 cars were counted using this as a cutoff and during the same hour only one car used the 159/160 junction. This was at a low-traveled time of 1:00 p.m. It is more severe during rush hour times of the day.
- If Avery Street is closed to through traffic at the same time the new speed limit goes into effect, it could help to reinforce the new Safety Speed Zone by
- changing driver behavior: providing a safer way and increasing awareness
- reducing disparity of speeds: through increased safety and awareness
- providing a better option to use 160 to Las Vegas, rather than doubling back through Red Rock at the junction
- educating drivers: if cars take this Avery shortcut and bypass the 159/160 junction, they will miss the new signage intended to educate people about the nature of the road and the new speed zone.
- reducing accidents: by using the proper turn lanes at the junction
- Bar one side of Avery Street, closing it to through traffic.
Can NDOT close a road to through traffic based on lack of turning lanes, improper use and resulting safety concerns? I understand that you don't need turning lanes on state highways for just 5 homes, but the volume of traffic on Avery Street by far exceeds that of a residential street. In fact, hardly anyone going this direction uses the properly suited 159/160 junction with it's turning lanes anymore. Originally Avery Street was a dirt road, then it was paved due to the dust issue. But once it was paved, and development in Pahrump and Las Vegas boomed, it began seeing a volume of use that was not planned. The junction suited for this volume of traffic is just one half mile further down the road. It has a proper 90 degree angle, turning lanes, and a stop sign, none of which Avery Street has. Yet most of the cars going between Pahrump and Las Vegas don't even use this junction anymore. If Avery Street is not closed off, then turning lanes should at least be created on 159 and 160, but that just doesn't make sense when a proper junction is so close.