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Cones blocking long traffic lanes irk Las Vegas Valley drivers

Updated September 3, 2018 - 8:05 am

David from Henderson spotted a pet peeve shared by many Southern Nevada drivers: orange cones blocking long segments of traffic lanes, even though construction workers are concentrated in a small area.

The latest locale, he said, runs along Stephanie Street, where Henderson city officials are bringing the sidewalks into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Commuters might not actually see any activity because most of the work is done during evenings and early mornings and on weekends, said Kathleen Richards, a spokeswoman for the city of Henderson.

“In many cases, the cones need to remain in place during non-work hours to protect motorists from trenches or other construction hazards,” Richards said. “That being said, we are sensitive to motorists’ concerns regarding cones and regularly work with contractors to remove and restrict non-essential barricades.”

On a wider scale, orange cones may block roads that have open trenches caused by underground utility work. Cones can also denote wet pavement or simply create a safe path for pedestrians during a major construction project, said Catherine Lu, a spokeswoman for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

Drivers who have questions about orange cones cropping up in their neighborhood can always call the RTC’s “Seeing Orange” hotline for more information at 702-928-2663 and get a response within 72 hours.

Slow-moving trucks

The morning commute for Amy from Las Vegas typically requires driving up the steep hill on the southbound 215 Beltway between Cheyenne Avenue and Lake Mead Boulevard in the northwest valley, where she gets stuck behind heavy trucks trudging along at 35 mph.

Given the 65 mph speed limit on the freeway, Amy said she notices other drivers slamming on their brakes or making sudden lane changes to get around the slow-moving trucks.

“Is there a minimum speed limit for trucks traveling on the freeway?” Amy asked. “Heavy trucks should be banned from this area during the morning commute.”

Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Jason Buratczuk said that there is no minimum speed limit on the freeway. The only requirement, he said, is that slower traffic keep to the far right of the road.

Pedestrian signal timing

Jan from Las Vegas thinks the pedestrian signal is too short at Charleston Boulevard and Indigo Drive in Summerlin.

“A person can’t get halfway across Charleston before the signal changes,” Jan wrote in an email to the Road Warrior.

Margaret Kurtz, a spokeswoman for the city of Las Vegas, said the walk symbol is typically displayed at signals for seven seconds, followed by a flashing countdown display. That countdown clock is calculated to allow a pedestrian to step off the curb and get across the street at an average walking speed of 3.5 feet per second.

“The calculations were reviewed by staff and appear to provide adequate time to cross Charleston,” Kurtz said, adding that traffic engineers will double-check their work.

Additional turn lane needed

Tex from Las Vegas wanted to know why the Nevada Department of Transportation built a single left-turn lane from eastbound Blue Diamond Road to northbound Decatur Boulevard in the southwest valley.

“The traffic backs up several times a day,” Tex said.

NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said the agency is planning to spend $15,000 to add another lane to this turn pocket and upgrade the signal head by the end of this year.

Rapid housing and commercial development along Blue Diamond has caused traffic to significantly jump from 26,000 cars a day in 2007 to 56,000 vehicles daily in 2017, Illia said.

Activate yellow arrows

Lillian from Las Vegas wanted to know why the flashing yellow left-turn arrows aren’t activated for the signals at Pollock and Silverado Ranch roads in the south valley, even though they are equipped with this capability.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said the flashing yellow arrows are activated only during some non-peak hours.

No yellow arrows here

John from Las Vegas wanted to know whether county officials plan to install flashing yellow left-turn signals along Town Center Drive at Twain Avenue and at Griffith Peak.

Kulin, the county spokesman, said the specialized signals weren’t placed here because of visibility limitations caused by the geometry of these intersections.

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