NDOT to address icy conditions on summit of 431
INCLINE VILLAGE – Two head-on collisions in as many weeks, a series of speeding tickets, fender benders galore and several near misses have caused officials from the Nevada Department of Transportation to consider posting a warning sign on the summit of State Route 431.
Incline resident Andy Whyman, who was involved in an accident on the icy stretch of road near the Mt. Rose summit parking lot in January 2004, said every Incline local knows that the first left turn after you go over the summit is dangerous – even on sunny days.
“In the winter that road is treacherous,” Whyman said. “I was only going 20 mph when my accident occurred and once I hit the ice, there was no way to stop.”
Whyman said he contacted NDOT to report the icy corner after his accident and asked if they could do anything about it.
“They told me they would look into it,” he said.
Now, nearly three years later, Jason Marty, NDOT supervisor for Highway 431, said the agency is finally talking about installing an electronic sign with flashing lights that will be controlled by temperature sensors in the roadway.
“That corner of the roadway has been an issue for as long as I can remember,” Marty said. “It is a north-facing slope that doesn’t get much sun and the snowmelt always re-freezes on the roadway.”
Because it may take until next fall to approve the permits to install the sign, Marty said the road department is taking several measures to improve current conditions.
“We constantly shave the ice off the roadway with a grader and we’ve tried to remove the snow above the corner, which melts and covers the roadway with water,” he said. “We’ve always tried to do something about that section of the summit but the real problem is people driving way too fast.”
Whyman said he takes that corner at less than 10 mph no matter the conditions.
“People who drive 431 on a regular basis think they are immune,” he said. “I probably pull off the road three or four times every time I go over the summit to let people speed by.”
Both of the collisions that occurred this month resulted in minor injuries, but North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District assistant chief Mike Brown, who was at the scene of last Friday’s crash, which sent five people, including one infant to Washoe Medical Center, said the area presents a serious safety hazard to drivers.
“People have got to slow down,” Brown said. “NDOT sands and salts the road as much as they can, but it’s a very dangerous corner and drivers need to be very aware of the ice in that area.”
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