This is a Unique and Critical Opportunity. First time in 17 years!
NDOT is asking the public to submit ideas for their 159/160 Corridor Study through Red Rock Canyon.
We are grateful that they considering the future of this area because conditions have changed. If you use these two roads, you know that they are no longer average state highways across Nevada. They have become dangerous busy corridors and we need to advise the NDOT ASAP about our ideas. Here is our TOP 10 Wishlist for Red Rock. Feel free to copy and paste anything you like from it. We’re sure you have other ideas, too, so please submit them by April 27. We need to be vigilant and proactive. It has been 17 years (2005) since we’ve been offered this opportunity to shape the future of our canyon roads. We can either use it or lose it!
Top 10 Wishlist for NDOT’s 159/160 Corridor Study:
(Feel free to copy any of these ideas and/or add your own.)
- Build Scenic Byway Roundabouts on 159
- Designate the bike lanes on 159
- Don’t bulldoze the wildflowers along 159
- Install park entrance stations on both ends of 159
- Increase law enforcement and utilize camera and radar technology on 159
- Build a paved off-road path along 160
- No new driveways onto 159
- Repair the wildlife fencing along 159
- Install “Move Over a Lane for Bicyclists” signage on 160 (not 159 because it is only 1 lane each direction and we hope to keep it that way.)
- Build frontage roads along Blue Diamond Highway from Hualapai to I-15 on 160
We’ve included a copy of our letter to NDOT at the bottom for more info on these points**
Copy of our 159/160 Corridor study letter to NDOT
Thank you for your $100 million investment in the future of the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Byway (SR159) and the Blue Diamond Highway (SR160) over Mt. Potosi. As you know, with the rapid increase of multi-modal popularity, and exponential growth in the adjacent metropolitan area, safety and conservation have become our top two critical concerns. We appreciate the opportunity you have provided for public collaboration in this important effort. Based on the feedback of the public that we have been working with since our inception (with the 2005 NDOT-sponsored SR159 Safety Charettes), Save Red Rock has identified our top ten priorities for safety and conservation.
1-Build Scenic Byway Roundabouts on 159
Scenic roundabouts every couple miles at every major turn off would change the tone of the experience in Red Rock from Superhighway-Metropolitan-Trucking-Shortcut-Raceway to Scenic Byway.
Our vulnerable Red Rock Canyon Scenic Byway has become a high speed dangerous super highway for diesel trucks, race cars and construction traffic mixed with kids, dogs, skaters, hikers, runners and bikers. If we don’t do anything, we will be left with the default state highway model that does not treat this highway any differently than any other state highway. Let’s recognize it for what it is and focus on the safety and serenity of the most popular national conservation area in America. Scenic roundabouts would change the character of the road and the behavior of the drivers and improve the overall experience and safety of the canyon.
2-Designate the bike lanes on 159
Officially designating the breakdown lanes as bike lanes would allow for proper signage to discourage cars from blocking the lane and causing bicyclists to swerve into traffic.
In 2008, NDOT built a beautiful 12 foot paved shoulder that has become the most popularly used bike route in all of Nevada, with hundreds of bikers and runners in groups large and small. It is known for the scenery and for the fact that there are no stops. The faster cyclists and groups use it to train for races. A paved off-road path is being built that will accommodate the slower recreational riders, but the bike lane is still needed for the faster groups and larger pelotons, which is what this road attracts more than any other road in the state. These groups can’t fit safely on the bike path with the seniors, kids, families, dogs, roller skaters, etc. They also can’t fit safely on the shoulders if they are blocked with parked cars. When cars block the bike lane, bikers have to swerve out into traffic, which can end tragically. Because the bike lanes are a critical component to the safety of the canyon, motorists must be educated with signage. In order to install proper signage, we ask that NDOT consider officially designating the shoulders as bike lanes.
3-Don’t bulldoze the wildflowers on 159
Discontinue the strip-mining-type bulldozing along the scenic byway. It doesn’t need to be treated like every other state highway. SR 159 is a Scenic Byway going through a National Conservation Area, so conservation should be a priority.
This year the bulldozers haven’t come yet and the wildflowers are gorgeous! In past years, the sides of the roads were scraped for dozens of feet in both directions. If you go anywhere else scenic, the natural vegetation goes right up to the road, even in many forests where visibility is an issue. Being in the desert, we don’t have to worry about that because desert vegetation doesn’t affect visibility. Save the flowers!
4-Park Entrance Stations on both ends of 159
They say that this is not done very often on state highways. But it is done for special conditions, like the state highway through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the state highway through Zion National Park. We believe that Red Rock Canyon is a special condition.
Red Rock is every bit as popular as those other model areas and even more heavily trafficked and vulnerable, being so close to a major metropolis. If park entrance stations bookended the Red Rock Scenic Byway, accountability could increase and crimes could decrease, such as graffiti, hit-and-run accidents, speeding, and unnecessary shortcut traffic. Also, the BLM could have more resources to manage other areas, not just the scenic loop. Calico Basin, Blue Diamond and First Creek/Oak Creek are a couple of examples of areas outside the scenic loop that also require management.
5-Increase law enforcement and/or utilize camera and radar technology on 159
Increased law enforcement and/or cameras, radars, etc. could better enforce the illegal trucking and speeding that were addressed by SB 128 in 2007 and the Red Rock Safety Zone (speed limit) in 2009.
6-Build a separated multi-use path along 160
Please build a paved off-road path from the Red Rock legacy Trail to the Cottonwood Valley Recreation Area, Mt. Springs and Pahrump along the NDOT right of way and the Spanish Trail Route.
First, a paved off-road path from Pahrump to Las Vegas would make Nevada as cool as our neighboring states that already connect communities with multi-modal alternatives. This path could connect families and recreational riders from Las Vegas to the scenic mountains, safely separated from the dangerous highway. Phase 6 of the Red Rock Legacy Trail proposes the first part of this path from 159/160 to Cottonwood Valley, but the BLM has not expressed interest in this part because they are already working on other parts of the trail. So it would be great if NDOT could work on this part or partner with Federal Highways to do it. It could fall within FLAP guidelines of connecting communities with federal lands.
Second, part of this recreational path could be along the Old Spanish Trail Historic Route as the Spanish Trail Historical Society has already expressed their support for this idea.
Third, the Mt. Potosi Hill Climb is one of the most popular hill climbs in Nevada and a separated bike path would mean riders could climb away from the danger and smog of cars. The downhill riders could still use the existing bike lane on the south side since it is so fast, but the uphill riders could enjoy a scenic trail up the mountain.
Fourth, a popular downhill biker shuttle run in the area is one that the BLM has to close down because it was socially constructed through a bighorn sheep habitat and wilderness area. An NDOT paved off-road path could provide an alternate solution.
Finally, where there are no large available shoulders, existing tunnels and/or adjacent bridges with cement dividers could be studied and considered. In other states, flood channels and tunnels are not discounted merely because of 100 year flood risks. Instead, they are used as recreation paths with signage that warns users to use at own risk and stay away in times of flooding. And in many places in Colorado where there is no room to put them side by side, they build the bike paths above and below the highways.
7-No new driveways onto 159
We propose a moratorium on new driveways and consolidation of all entrances onto 159 into single entry points to coincide with roundabouts and/or existing entry points. As more properties are sold, more builders will want to add more entry points onto 159. This is dangerous to the bike lane, the traffic lane, and the separated bike path.
8-Repair the wildlife fencing along 159
In 2009, AB 276 state law was passed and wildlife fencing fencing was installed along SR 159. Wild burros have been getting out and getting killed in areas where the fence is down. Repairs could fix this problem.
9-Install “Move over a lane for bicyclists” Signage on 160 (Not 159)
This is Nevada State Law and many motorists aren’t aware of it. We ask for on 160 not 159 because 159 is only 1 lane each direction and is a scenic byway. We hope to keep it that way.
10-Build frontage roads along both sides of 160 in the city
Just 25 years ago, drivers used to be able to get from Pahrump to the airport with just 2 stoplights. Now state highway 160 that goes through the city has turned into more of a surface street than a state highway.
SR 160 is one of only 5 access routes into Las Vegas and the only one that is not a major freeway. Building frontage roads along 160 through the city, would not only make a lot of people in the city happier and safer, it would also reduce the traffic that uses Red Rock as a shortcut.
We appreciate the opportunity to submit our comments surrounding our top two public concerns of safety and conservation as you conduct this critical corridor study through our beloved Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
Save Red Rock Board of Directors