Beltway bottleneck’s end near

This week readers want to know whether the Las Vegas Beltway bridge over Decatur Boulevard ever will be fixed and whether it’s OK to drive with a cracked windshield. Also, a former Californian tries to set Nevada straight on getting in and out of HOV lanes.

Rick asks: I live in the southwest part of the city. I take the Beltway east to Las Vegas Boulevard to get to work in the morning. When do you think the Decatur Bridge widening project will be completed? Also, are they going to make it four lanes or just three lanes?

Clark County has been working on this widening project, which includes the bridges over Decatur and the nearby railroad crossing, since October. The project was sorely needed as the Beltway bottle-necked from three lanes to two lanes heading west, causing daily rubbernecking.

Bobby Shelton, the spokesman for the county public works department, said work is on track to be finished by January 2009.

Shelton said the actual widening of the two bridges to the center is nearly complete. Once that is done, construction crews will widen the outside of the structures.

Shelton warned there are some construction challenges. “Some of the bridges’ approach slabs are going to need to be reconstructed. The county and contractor are considering using a quick set-up concrete and extended, but temporary ramp closures in order to try and get the necessary work completed as quickly as possible.”

Which means, while two lanes have been open to travel in both directions for the most part during this project, that could easily change and drivers may have to spend more time in their vehicles.

When complete, the widening will allow three lanes in each direction.

But until then, I would suggest avoiding driving on the Beltway during rush hour. Instead, try out Russell Road for east/west travel.

A reader writes: I was curious. Is it illegal to drive around with a cracked windshield?

The prevailing state law may not be as clear as that jagged line in your windshield. You would think this would be a straight forward answer, but it is not.

Nevada Revised Statute 484.541 states a person shall not drive a vehicle if it “is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person or property.”

So what is an unsafe condition?

Tom Jacobs, spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles, helped me find Nevada Revised Statute 484.619. That’s the law that states windshields and windows must not be obstructed.

“A person shall not drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster or other nontransparent material upon the front windshield, side wings or side or rear windows of such vehicle which obstructs the driver’s clear view of the highway or any intersecting highway.”

But does any crack in a windshield automatically obstruct a driver’s clear view of the road?

Jacobs feels it’s a matter of interpretation. A single crack may not obstruct a clear view, but “a spider crack might be a problem,” Jacobs said.

Las Vegas Municipal Code 11.28.090 is a lot clearer. It states, “It is unlawful to operate any motor vehicle upon a highway when the windshield or rear window is in such a defective condition as to impair the driver’s vision either to the front or rear.”

Either way, any crack may be viewed to be an obstruction, so I guess it all depends on the mood of the officer debating whether to write you a citation.

Russ writes: I am concerned about the wide, solid white line that separates the car pool lane (on U.S. Highway 95) from the others. It is continuous with no way in or out. Why didn’t the Nevada Department of Transportation drive three hours to California and see how they are suppose to look and work?

Another California transplant ready to bestow transportation wisdom on Nevada.

Judging by Los Angeles roadways, I’m not really sure Nevadans should turn to California for advice.

As this column has previously noted on numerous occasions, vehicles are allowed to cross over the solid white line anytime the driver wants, as long as they use a turn signal and have passengers.

Is it possible Californians are too busy looking in their vehicle vanity mirrors to pay attention to the rules of the road?

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

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