Surprise, surprise, surprise: I-15 exit moved


Maybe you were among the thousands of motorists ripping along southbound Interstate 15 earlier this month, preparing to take that temporary exit to U.S. Highway 95.

Bam!

The exit was gone. Or, more precisely, the real exit a half-mile up-highway had reopened and you just missed it and had to backtrack to get to U.S. 95.

When you travel the same route every day, it’s easy to miss those Nevada Transportation Department surprises. Local Road Warriors try to stay ahead of the game, but sometimes the surprise reopenings sneak up and bite us in mid-commute.

So after hearing all the commotion from motorists in the days after the switch, I checked in with the department to see when the rest of that notorious F Street project is going to be completed.

The F Street Connection Project was a controversy from Day 1.

When the redesigned Spaghetti Bowl was opened and a series of new road connections was established near downtown Las Vegas, residents of the historic West Las Vegas neighborhood discovered a big problem — their passage to downtown was blocked.

The change in traffic patterns was discussed in public meetings prior to construction, but there wasn’t enough fuss to justify keeping F Street open. Engineers believed it was OK for neighborhood residents to go a couple of blocks out of their way to go around the closed passageway.

Once the road was blocked, outrage ensued. Government leaders got together and concurred that it was a mistake to block the road and a plan was hatched to re-engineer the streets to enable a clear passage. Now, $13.6 million later, the route is nearly complete.

Part of the fix involved rerouting the I-15 exit to a temporary cutover. The right lane became an exit-only commitment and the lane next to it was an optional second exit lane. The idea was for traffic heading for northbound U.S. 95 to take the exit-only lane and those going on southbound U.S. 95 to take the other.

The only problem occurred when motorists not realizing they were in an exit-only lane suddenly decided to stay on I-15, crossing paths with those southbound U.S. 95 motorists.

So now that the exit is back to normal, what’s next for the streets under the freeway?

From Rayna Botros of the Transportation Department:

■ All the bridge structures are complete, and the soffit fill under the bridges has been excavated, so now you can see from F Street to Bonanza Road.

■ The D Street onramp to southbound I-15 is expected to be open sometime in October.

■ The first of two “Historic Westside” sound walls has been poured.

■ F Street has been paved from Washington Avenue to McWilliams Avenue.

■ The projected completion date is late November.

Let’s all hope that no one decides to change it back to the way it was.

U-TURN RIGHTS OF WAY

Maybe it was because of the supermoon that three people wrote in with similar questions about U-turn rights of way. Warrior reader Donna asked: If you are in a left turn lane with a red light, do you have the right to make a U-turn on that red light?

Other variations of the question asked who has the right of way, the U-turner or a motorist making a right turn on red onto the street where a U-turner is heading.

Trooper Loy Hixson with the Nevada Highway Patrol notes that a U-turn from a left-turn lane can only occur when signs permit it, and the usual left-turn rules apply. In other words, no turning on a red light.

And, if you’re the motorist making a right turn on red from the other street in the direction of the U-turner, the U-turner has the right of way.

Yes, it’s frustrating to have a traffic opening when making that right turn on red, but you must give way to the motorist making a U-turn.

Another variation: Who’s liable in a collision if a motorist heading one direction is making a right turn and a motorist heading from the opposite direction makes a left turn?

Technically, the right turner and the left turner should never meet if they’re driving properly and they’re moving onto a street with two or more lanes. The right turner should stay in the right lane and the left turner should stay in the left lane.

Hixson said both motorists could be cited for the same accident for inattentive driving. The best solution: Stay in your lane but give way to avoid a collision.

BACK TO SCHOOL

I was taken to task last week by some Warrior readers who quoted traffic statutes stating that school zones are only in effect during normal school hours.

Keep in mind that the experts quoted last week are looking to keep pedestrians in school zones safe, even if that means slowing down after school hours when special extracurricular activities are occurring or on Saturdays when children are playing in nearby parks.

You won’t get much comfort or sympathy for following the school zone rules to the letter if your car hits a pedestrian after hours.

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