Weaving Among the Cones

This week, readers want to know when engineers will cut down the forest of road work cones along Blue Diamond Road, and if plans for a Craig Road overpass were just a dream.

And the Road Warrior finds a driver lacking the maternal instinct. Or any sense of shame.

Bob Kalman asks: Is the stretch of Blue Diamond Road from Interstate 15 to Decatur Boulevard ever going to open up? It's one lane heading west and two lanes heading east. The road is paved, but is still not open.

It shouldn't be much longer. That stretch of Blue Diamond, also known as state Route 160, is expected to open as an eight-lane road -- four lanes each way -- sometime in June or July, according to Bob McKenzie, a spokesman with the Nevada Department of Transportation.

After that, drivers on Route 160 between I-15 and Decatur can still expect some occasional lane restrictions through August to allow finishing work on that highway stretch, which was originally just two lanes, according to McKenzie.

That doesn't mean work along Route 160 in the fast-growing southwestern Las Vegas Valley will be finished. Far from it. Commuters counting on Route 160 can expect various road work projects over the next couple of years.

"Blue Diamond is a high priority, with the growth that's going on out there," McKenzie said. "We want people to realize we have a number of projects under way."

This fall, state highway officials expect to start work on widening Route 160 to as many as eight lanes from Decatur westward to Rainbow Boulevard. Work will include an overpass taking Route 160 over railroad tracks near Jones Boulevard.

That project won't finish before early 2009, McKenzie said.

In early 2008, engineers will begin work on widening Route 160 to four lanes between Buffalo Drive and the state Route 159 turnoff. That project could finish as soon as the end of 2009, McKenzie said.

In the end, it's hoped the changes will better accommodate the exploding traffic volumes on Route 160, which has seen the number of cars as much as triple on some highway sections amid the growth of the Mountain's Edge residential development, other nearby projects and the increased popularity of Pahrump as a bedroom community.

Gordon Millett asks: I frequently travel on Craig Road and all too often I am frustrated by having to wait in a long line of cars for a train to cross near Interstate 15. I remember hearing at one time that an overpass was to be built over the railroad tracks. What ever became of this project? Has it been discarded altogether and, if not, when will it happen?

Craig at I-15 has been a choke point for commuters for some time. There, a railroad crossing often stops Craig traffic, sometimes backing cars all the way back onto the freeway.

And over the past decade, as the northern valley has become more densely populated, traffic on Craig has increased by around 50 percent, according to state statistics.

For some time, state engineers have had a plan to build an overpass taking Craig over the tracks. Originally, it was hoped that work would start as soon as mid-2006. But skyrocketing construction costs and some right of way issues stalled that work, until now.

"We've got really good news on that," McKenzie said. "We're coming close to construction."

The state is seeking bids on the roughly $40 million project, and hopes to start work on the overpass sometime this fall. Completion could come sometime in early 2009, according to McKenzie.

The project is being largely paid for by the Regional Transportation Commission and the city of North Las Vegas, McKenzie said.

Hit 'n Run: Bill Abramson doesn't have a badge, but I've deputized him as a Road Warrior road ranger and sent him out to find scofflaws. And he did, on Trailwood Drive near the intersection of Town Center Drive and Summerlin Parkway. There, a school bus was stopped to pick up some kiddies recently.

"The two stop signs were out" when a woman drove up from behind, Bill reports. "She stopped, and then all of the sudden she zipped down past everybody and went down the center divider (lane)."

Bill pursued the suspect to a nearby supermarket, and confronted her. "I said, don't you know you can't pass a bus? She just looked at me like, 'Well, too bad. I did it.'" he said. "You just don't do that."

Unfortunately, Bill and I lack the power to make an arrest. But I do have the power to shame. We know who you are, Monte Carlo-driving lady.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call the Road Warrior at 387-2904, or e-mail him at roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com or OSofradzija@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number.