Minden roundabout wins skeptical support
March 30, 2006
MINDEN – A proposed roundabout here can handle anything the community throws at it: inexperienced drivers, tractor trailer rigs, teenage pranksters and emergency vehicles.
That was the upshot Wednesday night of a two-hour presentation by Nevada Department of Transportation officials to 85 residents many of whom wanted to know why the busy intersection at Highway 88 and County Road can’t have a traffic light.
Fred Droes, chief safety/traffic engineer for the department, fielded questions for about 90 minutes and endured occasional catcalls and derisive laughter from citizens unconvinced the roundabout would work.
Pending approval, the roundabout should be completed in late August at the intersection which provides access to Douglas High School, the Carson Valley Swim Center, the East Fork Fire and Paramedics Districts station, county library and several businesses.
Droes said the intersection is considered a “high crash” location by the state with 27 accidents reported from May 2000 to January 2006.
That included nine injury accidents and 18 property damage only.
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Droes said the state’s mission is to improve safety and pedestrian access at the site and reduce speeds.
Options are to do nothing or change vehicle movement by installation of the roundabout, or a four-way stop sign which officials said increases delay time, and is not pedestrian-friendly.
“When drivers are trying to keep track of who goes next, they’re not looking for pedestrians,” Droes said.
He repeated the department’s stance that the intersection does not meet federal requirements for a traffic signal.
“We’ve been doing studies since 1995 and it still doesn’t meet the criteria. It’s not in the tool box as an option,” Droes said.
That prompted a handful of speakers to present statistics they claim show the average daily traffic far exceeds the rate at Highway 88 and Mottsville/ Waterloo which has a signal.
Droes said the number and severity of injury accidents at Mottsville prompted the traffic signal.
Gardnerville resident Myrna Morris asked for assurance that high school students would use the roundabout appropriately. She said she’d already overheard conversations that youthful drivers planned to enter the roundabout and stay there.
“It’s not illegal to drive round and round, but it gets pretty boring after two or three times,” Droes said.
He said he had been meeting with school officials to create an awareness program for students.
Minden resident Linda Hiebert Segikuchi asked Droes if a signal could be programmed to be used during peak hours.
“We do not turn signals off and on,” Droes said.
Audience members began calling out comments halfway through the evening prompting Minden town board member Bob Hadfield to ask participants to “please not kill the messenger.”
“Obviously, there are some very strong feelings here,” Hadfield said. “The town board requested the state make a presentation to better see and hear the proposal. Please don’t get argumentative.”
The Town of Minden is set to take action Wednesday on a contract with the state to make improvements to Mahogany Drive for the proposed roundabout.