weather icon Light Rain

A New Way To Go

This week, readers want to know whether a stop light lighting equals a street opening and whether highway officials in high places live in the lower part of the state.

And the Road Warrior hears about a motorized vehicle that didn’t belong on the street.

Charles Waddell asks: Do you know when the lights will be activated at Blue Diamond Road and Buffalo Drive? And when this happens, will Buffalo be open at Windmill Lane?

Good news for you, Charlie. The new stoplight at Buffalo and Blue Diamond, which is known also as state Route 160, was activated April 2.

That was part of road improvements around the Mountain’s Edge residential development along Blue Diamond in the southwest Las Vegas Valley, said Bobby Shelton, a spokesman with Clark County’s Public Works Department.

At the same time, engineers opened an extension of Buffalo between Route 160 and the Las Vegas Beltway, giving residents a choice in taking Route 160 or the Beltway to access Interstate 15, Shelton said.

Previously, Buffalo ran south from the Beltway to Windmill. Then the road was cut off from Windmill to Route 160, before resuming south of Route 160.

It has been well-documented that the development of Mountain’s Edge has tripled traffic on parts of Route 160, leading to a spike in congestion and wrecks.

While the county is working on linking north-south streets between Route 160 and the Beltway, the Nevada Department of Transportation is widening Route 160 in that area from two lanes to as many as eight lanes.

Richard Washburn asks: I heard that the big chiefs that run the Nevada Department of Transportation all reside in Reno or Carson City. Do you know if this is true? Since the majority of Nevada’s growth is occurring in Clark County, you’d think they might want to have someone in Las Vegas to see firsthand what’s going on here and establish priorities in their proper order.

It’s true that a bunch of NDOT’s bigwigs can be found well north of here.

Transportation Director Susan Martinovich lives in Carson City, as does Assistant Director for Planning Kent Cooper. Deputy Director and Chief Engineer R. Scott Rawlins lives in nearby Reno. All three are alumni of the University of Nevada, Reno. And Assistant Director of Planning James Souba resides in Fallon, not far from Reno.

Then again, the state capital is in Carson City. So where else would they be?

Nonetheless, the Las Vegas Valley is not entirely shut out from the halls of highway power.

There is Rudy Malfabon, who since 2003 has been the assistant director for Southern Nevada and based in Las Vegas.

Malfabon is equal in rank to Rawlins and is exceeded in authority only by Martinovich, to whom he reports directly.

"He’s the number two. He has quite a bit of authority," said Bob McKenzie, an NDOT spokesman. "He is the voice of the director in Southern Nevada. He works closely in coordination with local governments to set the priorities in Southern Nevada."

Also, Martinovich claims frequent trips to Southern Nevada to stay abreast of traffic here firsthand, and she sits on the Regional Transportation Commission board as a nonvoting member.

"Our director spends quite a bit of time down here, as do other members of the NDOT team," McKenzie said.

Like NDOT’s check-writers. About 61 percent of NDOT’s road improvement and repair budget, more than $392 million, will be spent in Clark County in the 2007 fiscal year, which ends June 30. Another 14 percent, around $90 million, goes to Washoe County and Reno, while the rest of the state gets 25 percent, almost $159 million).

Hit ‘n Run: A couple of weeks back or so, we wrote about a motorized vehicle that shouldn’t have been on the sidewalk. In that case, it was a moped whose driver thought he was too good for the street. Earlier this month, Karin Gavin saw a motorized vehicle that shouldn’t have been on the street, specifically Rampart Boulevard on April 3.

"We were heading toward Summerlin Parkway from Lake Mead Boulevard when we saw a woman in a motorized wheelchair coming toward us on the street. Not the sidewalk," Gavin said. "She’s just coming toward the traffic flying toward her.

"I said to my husband, ‘Why isn’t she on the sidewalk?’" Gavin said.

Good question. Under Nevada law, personal mobility devices have the same legal rights as pedestrians and should stay on the sidewalk. Likewise, such vehicles are not considered street-worthy and should not operate in the street, especially going the wrong way down the road.

I know that crummy sidewalks in some parts of town drive motorized wheelchair riders into the street, but I can’t imagine Summerlin fits that bill. It’s just another thing for drivers to watch for, I guess.

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.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Project Neon traffic messaging signs delayed in Las Vegas

Motorists will have to wait a little longer for the dynamic traffic messaging signs on area highways to go live, but if all goes as planned it will be an early Christmas present from the state Department of Transportation.