Roundabout called safer than other intersections


What goes around comes around, literally, as we open this week's edition of Road Warrior questions-answers with a concern and a query about roundabouts.

Donna recently moved to Summerlin, and she says she regularly sees accidents in the suburb's roundabouts, specifically the one at Town Center Drive and Hualapai Way.

"I've seen people drive against traffic and drive in the wrong lanes when they want to make turns, causing accidents or near-misses," she writes.

Donna says the arrows and markings that were on the pavement have faded over time, so she asks: "Is there any way we can get them painted again, and soon?"

First, a little Road Warrior history lesson on roundabouts:

■ They're European by birth.

■ The first modern ones in the United States, in which traffic must travel in one direction around a central island and priority is given to the circulating flow, were implemented - whaddaya know! - in Summerlin in 1990.

■ Carmel, Ind., named the nation's most livable city in 2012, will make your head spin with a nation-leading 78.

■ They have been mocked for their "confusion" in such comedies as the movie "European Vacation" and the TV series "The Simpsons" (Bart to Homer on a family trip to England: "Dad! You entered a roundabout!" as they begin to go 'round and 'round and 'round.)

As to Donna's serious concern, city of Las Vegas spokeswoman Diana Paul says: "This roundabout has had about the same number of accidents in 2012 as other similar-sized intersections controlled by traffic signals. On the positive side, accidents in roundabouts are almost always minor, whereas at our signalized intersections drivers tend to have high-speed crashes that result in injuries and/or fatalities.

"As for the faded markings on this roundabout, a work order has been placed to refresh them."

Barbara also lives in Summerlin, but her concern isn't about roundabouts. It's about the safety of making eastbound and westbound turns onto Sahara Avenue from Blue Willow Lane, where an overgrowth of shrubs in the Blue Willow medians as well as speeding drivers on Sahara have made such maneuvers dangerous. She asks, "Why hasn't a signal been put at this intersection?"

Barbara won't be seeing lights there anytime soon, but Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin says she may see someone with a set of shrub clippers: "Our Public Works Department staff looked into this and found some sight visibility issues due to median-island landscaping. The county is sending a notification to the association that has the responsibility of maintaining the median landscaping, telling them to trim it, per code, back to a height of no more than 24 inches."

We next turn to Ray, who has his own turning issues: "When traveling east on Sahara approaching Boulder Highway, there's a detour to your right to access Boulder southbound. At the intersection, there's a sign that says 'No left turn' onto northbound Boulder. Why is it so marked? You are on a one-way detour with no oncoming traffic and there are two lanes to turn left onto."

Traffic flow and safety are the reasons, the county's Kulin tells us: "There is not enough lane storage - that is, space for turning vehicles to line up - so it could significantly impact traffic flow on this major road/detour. Also, the turning radius is not desirable; the turn onto Boulder would be sharper than 90 degrees."

As we continue to travel the valley, reader Douglas wants to know: "What happened to Valley View Boulevard being connected between Flamingo Road and Tropicana Avenue? There was supposed to be something in the works, but it doesn't appear anything is happening?"

Yes, there is something in the works, but it's a process, as the county's Kulin explains: "We're working on acquiring all the needed rights-of-way. Once that is completed, we can move forward with securing funding for the project. The design is nearly complete."

Ed is a new resident of Henderson, and he says he has difficulty reading the street signs of major intersections in time to move into the appropriate turning lane. He inquires, "Are there any plans to place street signs ahead of the intersections?"

"Genius!" the Road Warrior exclaims.

Way ahead of both of you, says Kathleen Richards, city of Henderson spokeswoman: "As a matter of fact, the city has plans to install advance street name signs in front of intersections with traffic signals. This signage is now included in the specification for new traffic signals and a handful have been installed so far. The city will install the signage at about 160 existing signalized intersections over the next several years.

"One of the goals identified in Henderson's strategic plan is to foster a safe community, and advanced warning signage makes intersections safer by making them more conspicuous."

Rian would much rather be safe than sorry, which leads him to inquire about a potentially dangerous situation on Windmill Lane, east of Rainbow Boulevard: "Windmill is a six-lane road, three in each direction, with a turn lane in the center and no raised median island. My question: If a school bus drops off children midblock on the north side of the road, do cars traveling on the south side of the street have to stop? This is a 35 mph zone, with no flashing school lights or signage that makes this clear."

The Road Warrior thanks Rian for his concern.

We checked with the Metropolitan Police Department, and officer Laura Meltzer informs us: "If there is not a raised island median, you must stop. If there is an island median, traffic heading the other way may proceed - but should do so with extreme caution because of the spontaneity of children."

If you have traffic questions or gripes, email them to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please be specific, and include your phone number. Not all questions can be answered in print. Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter: @RJroadwarrior.

 

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