Councilman calls for lower speed limits at accident-prone intersections

As school kids play at Booker Elementary School on Monday, cars constantly fail to see the bright pedestrian signs and speed through the surrounding intersections at an alarming rate.

In the past six weeks, two people lost their lives crossing the street at those intersections.

And, as Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow talks about his plans to improve the dangerous intersections in West Las Vegas near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Carey Avenue, Mary Leach is uncontrollably sobbing in her wheelchair.

Her son, 60-year-old Judge Brooks, was killed after a driver failed to stop for him as he crossed Martin Luther King Boulevard at Bartlett Avenue in a crosswalk on Nov. 1.

“It’s very hard to raise somebody and then for someone to just take his life … it’s not fair,” she said as she fought back tears.

Elizabeth Mays, 78, was hit and killed as she used a crosswalk at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Balzar Avenue in her wheelchair just before 4 p.m. Sept 20.

There have been 35 pedestrian fatalities as of Nov. 5 in the metropolitan area, and it’s a problem Barlow said must be stopped.

“Too many individuals have been killed,” he said. “In the end, it’s up to our drivers and pedestrians to follow the laws. I don’t want to see another pedestrian killed.”

Barlow discussed the importance of making the area safer, particularly since it is so close to Booker Elementary School.

He has proposed a City Council vote on Wednesday to lower the speed limit on Martin Luther King Boulevard from 45 to 35 mph.

“And that’s just a start,” he said.

He also plans for the city to install a pedestrian-activated flasher on Martin Luther King Boulevard at Bartlett and Balzar to reduce the risk of pedestrians being hit.

The project would take between 90 to 120 days to build and would cost the city between $100,000-$200,000, Barlow said. The money has already been allocated for the project, according to city officials.

“I wish I had a magic wand so I could install these today,” he said. “Unfortunately government doesn’t work that way.”

Revon McDowell has been the head custodian at Booker since the school opened six years ago. She said there are frequent accidents occurring with both parents and teachers as they leave the school.

“Every year since I’ve been here, there has been an accident,” she said. “I’ve complained to the principal that something needs to be done. We need to get some help over here.”

On Nov. 11, 100 residents of the West Las Vegas neighborhood where Brooks and Mays were killed held signs that begged drivers to slow down and keep their eyes out for pedestrians crossing the street. They protested for changes.

And as Barlow discussed his plans to make the area safer for pedestrians, two more people were nearly hit as cars flew through the marked crosswalk.

The City of Las Vegas recently conducted a traffic study detailing the amount of traffic running through Martin Luther King Boulevard in West Las Vegas.

The four areas included Symphony Park to Bonanza Road; Bonanza Road to Washington Avenue; Washington Avenue to Lake Mead Boulevard; and Lake Mead Boulevard to Carey Avenue.

Results showed that three of the four segments needed a 35 mph speed limit.

Though there won’t be an overnight solution, residents said they’re glad something is finally being done about the dangerous intersections.

And even though the proposed improvements won’t bring Leach’s son back, she said she’s happy that the problem is finally being addressed.

“I’m very pleased,” she said.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.

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