A traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Blue Diamond and Cimarron roads, a dangerous spot brought to the public forefront when a 14-year-old girl was struck and killed by the pickup truck while walking there in November.
The traffic signal is expected to be operating in about nine months, and the intersection will have a crosswalk and signals for pedestrians, said Mary Martini, district engineer for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
The state agency’s board heard a presentation Monday about the issue. The agency still has to get cost estimates, determine the funding source and put the job up for bid. Its preliminary cost is pegged at about $1 million to $2 million.
Helen Liu was one of three pedestrians hit by a pickup truck on Nov. 9. The other two were injured. A vigil for Liu was interrupted five days later by a three-car crash at the same intersection that injured three people.
“Safety is always our No. 1 concern,” she said. “We’re always endeavoring to try to make transportation as safe as we can.”
Martini noted that the Las Vegas region saw a lull in traffic when the recession took hold, and safety improvements along the corridor were put on hold.
Now, she said, traffic volume is picking up again. ‘’Unfortunately, the accident just brought it right in front of us,” Martini said. “It was in the public eye and it made it very clear that we needed to move on it perhaps a little faster than maybe the funding would have allowed, but again that’s one corridor and one intersection.”
The coming weeks the agency will do a road safety audit of other intersections in the Blue Diamond Road corridor for possible improvements, she said. That work will entail looking factors such as traffic flow patterns, problem areas where traffic laws are disregarded and need infrastructure such as sidewalks and ramps.
Martini said the agency is holding off on putting in the crosswalk before the signals are in place for safety reasons. While the law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, crosswalks can be difficult to see and provide a false sense of security, she said.
Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager said it’s important that any improvements meet the safety needs of the intersection, which is a wide street for pedestrians to cross. She said that examining the whole corridor is important, noting that traffic has increased elsewhere, particularly with the addition of Wet ‘N’ Wild Las Vegas on Fort Apache Road near Blue Diamond Road.
Liu’s family couldn’t be located Monday for comment.