Valley moving slowly into roundabout issue
MINDEN – Construction of a roundabout at Highway 88 and County Road won’t go forward until a majority of the local boards, including the Minden Town Board and county commissioners, agree to the move, said Scott Magruder, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
“It’s our intention to be proactive and get the word out,” Magruder said. “We’ll be taking this issue to the county commissioners and we won’t build over their objections.”
Local school officials and emergency personnel, including fire and paramedic professionals, will also be invited to comment. No public meetings have been scheduled yet, Magruder said.
At some point, county commissioners will have to take action on an agreement to allow state officials on county property for this improvement, said Fred Droes, chief traffic and safety engineer for the Department of Transportation.
State officials could ask for that approval as soon as April, Magruder said.
The project has been challenged by Minden residents and officials, who say multiple speed zones, heavy truck traffic and inexperienced drivers will hamper the roundabout’s operation.
If approved, the project will go to bid in April and construction will start in June. It should be completed before school starts, Magruder said.
The cost of a roundabout has gone up, to about $500,000 due primarily to inflation, Droes said.
“It’s more expensive than a signal, but again, I think it’s safer. It lowers speeds and it’s more efficient,” Droes said.
The project will be funded with Federal Highway Safety Improvement Funds, a safety category, he said.
“The intersection meets the criteria for a crash location,” Droes said. “So it will be funded entirely with federal and NDOT funds.”
The intersection provides access to Douglas High School, Carson Valley Swim Center, the new Carson Valley Meetinghouse for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nevada Fitness, Douglas County Public Library, a Montessori school, dance studio, several office buildings and the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts station.
Roundabouts are becoming more popular in the United States and a lot more technical information is available to make the transition smoother, Magruder said. The popularity of roundabouts will grow as residents get accustomed to using them.
According to a 2000 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there is a 75 percent reduction in injury crashes at roundabouts converted from stop signs or lights.
Roundabouts improve access to intersections for motorists approaching from minor roads and help reduce delays when volume is heavier on some approaches.
“The most serious kinds of crashes at conventional intersections are virtually eliminated by roundabouts,” the study said. “Crashes that do occur tend to be minor because traffic speeds are slower.”
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