State says roundabout best for intersection on Highway 88
August 20, 2005
MINDEN – The state will look at the intersection of County Road and Highway 88 one more time, but officials said Wednesday that they have a responsibility to do something and that a traffic light probably isn’t in the cards.
Fred Droes, chief safety and traffic engineer for Nevada’s Department of Transportation, said the department will do another traffic warrant study, but the one done last spring showed the intersection didn’t meet the requirements for a traffic signal.
“There is a national manual for traffic control devices and they have seven or eight warrants you need to look at before you can install a traffic signal,” Droes said. “We do that whenever we look at a traffic signal on a state route. We’ve looked at the warrants at County Road and 88 for a number of years and so far there is just not a sufficient amount of traffic on County Road and 88 to warrant installation of a signal.”
However, the intersection does have a high accident rate, Droes said, which will require the state to take action.
“The department realizes we have a problem there. We are seeing a significant number of crashes. In lieu of a signal we believe a roundabout will provide the relief folks are looking for.”
Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said people tended to be against the roundabout at public hearings on the intersection of 5th and Edmonds streets in Carson City.
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We had 80 percent of people who were against it,” he said. “Now that it’s in, I think 80 percent of those people would say it works fine. Our message is that it is a calming device. It definitely calms traffic.”
Chief of the state transportation department’s communications office, Dennis Baugman, agreed.
“All states are moving toward roundabouts,” Baugman said. “New York has a policy of only putting in roundabouts, unless deemed unfeasible. We’re always going to look at a roundabout because they work so well. They are much safer than traffic signals. People are against them, but once they start using them, they are all for them.”
Droes said the cost of a traffic light versus a roundabout is not the issue.
“There’s a balance between efficiently moving the traffic through a corridor and the safety,” he said. “We do get requests from developers who will pay full cost for signal, but the cost is not the issue, safety is. We’re not going to give somebody a light because they have the money.”
Baughman said that placing a light somewhere that doesn’t meet the warrants increases the state’s liability in an accident. That liability would also be increased if the state does nothing, he said.
Were the county to reject the roundabout, the state would ask that commissioners take responsibility for accidents that occur there.
Transportation officials plan to hold sessions to educate people about roundabouts in the near future.
The roundabout at County Road and Highway 88 would cost $300,000 and go out to bid in December for construction next summer.
A traffic light costs $200,000 at most, but the Town of Minden has offered to pay for it and maintain it.
Minden officials are opposing a roundabout at the intersection, pointing out that it serves Douglas High School, the Carson Valley Swim Center, East Fork Paramedics Station 14 and other businesses.