Demand for diesel jacks up price

This week readers want to know why diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline, whether the lights on U.S. Highway 95 ever will be turned back on and whether there are plans for a crosswalk at Garden Park on Town Center Drive.

Nelson Fish asks: Diesel fuel for years was much cheaper than regular gasoline. Why is it more expensive than even high-test gasoline now?

It comes down to supply and demand. The demand for diesel fuel in the West is so high that refineries in California must operate at full capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA.

Of course, if there is the slightest problem with the delivery of the fuel or its production, prices can soar.

About 75 percent of all diesel fuel used in the United States is used on our freeways. The fuel is consumed by semi's, delivery trucks, buses, trains, ships and other motorized vessels, as well as farm, construction and military vehicles, according to the EIA.

The regional demand for diesel comes from Long Beach, Calif., the site of our nation's largest port. The majority of the goods shipped there are trucked out by diesel-powered vehicles to their final destination.

Here in Nevada we enjoy lower diesel fuel prices than our neighbors to the west. The EIA listed California diesel prices at about $3.80 this week. That's almost 20 cents more than the Silver State average. The EIA Web site indicates that mostly is because of higher taxes in California.

Now for some useless information: Diesel fuel is named for it's inventor, the German engineer Rudolf Diesel, who patented the fuel in 1892.

Jim Lane writes: Another month has rolled by with no lights on U.S. 95 at Charleston Boulevard. Thirteen months with no lights is beyond belief. I really feel the Nevada Department of Transportation doesn't give a rip about the area. Somebody is going to have to get killed before they will do something. I travel that route four times a week at 9:30 p.m., and it ain't fun!

Well Mr. Lane, the future is bright. But it's still the future.

The blackout on U.S. 95 occurred because copper thieves ripped out wiring from the freeway lights about a year ago. At the time, officials had some of the lights repaired only to see the copper wiring ripped out again. It caused the folks at the Transportation Department to take a step back and try to figure out a way to fix the lights and prevent future thefts.

The fix is expected to cost taxpayers upwards of $500,000. Transportation Department spokesman Bob McKenzie told me that the wire and equipment needed to repair the lights should be here within a week and work will begin immediately thereafter. Transportation Department officials are hoping to have the wiring complete by April.

The fix also will include "preventative measures" to keep the thieves out, McKenzie said. He didn't want to elaborate for "obvious reasons."

Let's hope the preventative measures work.

Eddie Warren asks: I have noticed that there aren't any east-west crosswalks on Town Center Drive between Desert Inn and Flamingo roads. Children are constantly trying to dodge speeding traffic to make their way to Garden Park. Is it the responsibility of Summerlin, the city or county to keep the pedestrians in Summerlin safe?

Eddie, that is Clark County territory. County public works spokesman Bobby Shelton said there were no plans for crosswalks in the area.

"The park has been there for a few years now and no one has asked us to look into the need for crosswalks. Consequently, we didn't know of any issues or concerns regarding the crossing of the street," Shelton said.

I guess now they know about one person's concern.

But Shelton adds: "People need to remember that crosswalks, whether marked or unmarked, do exist at intersecting roadways." Motorists should take the time to let pedestrians cross the street at an intersection.

Shelton went on to say the county traffic management folks believe the signals at Desert Inn and the Las Vegas Beltway allow enough of a gap in traffic to allow pedestrians to cross safely.

Shelton said the requirements to establish a marked crosswalk include having at least 20 pedestrians an hour cross the intersection. He encouraged folks with concerns to call the county traffic management folks at 455-6100.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at or (702) 387-2904.