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East side drivers would welcome orange cones

Most drivers on the east side of town have developed strategies when they run their errands.

Scottie Briscoe avoids Sahara Avenue east of Nellis Boulevard at all costs. The road rattled her 2008 Honda so badly it now sounds more like a 1970 Pinto. Even though she ends up spending more on gasoline, it’s worth it to take longer routes and avoid the car-wrecking washboard Sahara has become.

Bill Cook adopted a different approach: He creeps along the lane near the curb where the asphalt is smoothest.

These Sunrise Manor residents and their neighbors are envious of the orange cone jungles that plague the rest of the Las Vegas Valley’s commute. Road work is under way or, if not, at least the construction zones suggest crews might be doing something someday.

These people get it: Clark County doesn’t have cash spewing from its sandstone pyramid. But nobody believes the lagging economy has anything to do with east Sahara, Nellis and Lamb Boulevard being in such bad shape that motorists avoid them. This, they say, has been going on for years.

“We’ve seen some (road work) on the west side of Sahara, but that’s about it. We haven’t seen any other road construction,” said Briscoe, who has lived in that area for more than two decades. “I haven’t seen any improvement on this side. Nothing.”

The pattern has residents wondering, actually convinced, that the county pays closer attention to more affluent neighborhoods and looks the other way when it comes to the east side.

“Definitely,” Cook said, noting that Sahara between Sloan Lane and Hollywood Boulevard is freshly paved because a new housing development recently opened. “Lamb from Vegas Valley to Charleston is like a war zone; between Nellis and Sloan is the same way. Their idea of repaving is filling in potholes. That’s it.”

The roads that smack cars around aren’t the only issue the county is ignoring, Briscoe said. Crosswalks haven’t been repainted in so long they’re essentially nonexistent.

Briscoe said that after a man was struck and killed at Bonanza and Sandhill roads, the county finally erected flashing lights.

“It’s probably a lower-income area on this part of town. The more money you have, the more noise you can make and people will hear you,” Briscoe says. “You don’t see all the politicians living on the east side of town.”

To her credit, County Commissioner Chris Guinchigliani didn’t dance around the topic. She didn’t say her constituents are exaggerating. She drives those roads, too.

“It’s a mess. The east side of town has been neglected, and that’s why I ran for office,” Guinchigliani said. “Growth hurt our older areas because everything went to the new areas, and that’s not fair in my opinion.”

Parts of Sahara and Charleston are overseen by the state, but Guinchigliani said the county has set aside fuel tax revenues, the only source of funding for road maintenance, for the east side.

In the fall, crews will begin work on Bonanza, Stewart Avenue, Lamb, Arden Street, Wyoming Avenue and Sandhill. A $5 million stimulus infusion will allow the county to pave Sahara from Nellis to the Las Vegas Wash.

That’s good news for motorists and their vehicles.

The bad news for residents such as Pat Belbot is the area might lose some of its entertainment value.

Belbot has developed a long list of things she has seen flying out of trucks as they traveled through an especially bumpy part of the Nellis-Desert Inn intersection.

She is partly astonished at the county’s lack of attention to the area and partly amused at what she witnesses.

“A load of cabinets flew off a truck; that was the last thing I saw,” Belbot said.

“I’ve seen those maintenance guys lose tools. Then there were the boxes of nails that spilled. One time I saw a mail lady hit the bump so hard she flew up and hit her head on the roof of the truck. I had to laugh.”

Probably a funny sight, but apparently not having a strategy in that area is no laughing matter.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at 702-387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal
.com. Please include your phone number.

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