Las Vegas Valley intersections, roads lagged developments

Without a strong foundation, nothing can thrive. We know this. It’s why our kids have to learn algebra and how to ride a bicycle without training wheels and that sometimes, even though you didn’t do anything wrong, you’re going to fall down and whack your chin on the playground.

We should take these lessons into adulthood, the importance of foundations. But life gets in the way all the time and we forget.

Let’s have a little reminder right now, shall we?

Klaus wrote in with a common complaint. He lives out in the far northwest part of Las Vegas, a neighborhood called Providence. (Hi, Klaus. Apparently we’re neighbors. I live in Providence, too.)

Anyway, like a lot of new and developing areas in Southern Nevada, there wasn’t much of a traffic foundation laid when folks started moving into Providence. The two-lane roads leading into the area remained two-lane roads, even when thousands of people came. The four-way stops that were quickly erected to handle traffic remained four-way stops, despite the obvious need for something more hardy.

Which brings us to Klaus’ complaint. The intersection of Hualapai Way and Deer Springs Road is a mess. Deer Springs dead-ends at Hualapai, while Hualapai goes from a four-lane road to a two-lane road and then runs into the Las Vegas Beltway.

There’s a three-way stop there now, and it can’t handle all the traffic. Cars back up terribly during rush hour. It can take 10 minutes or more to get through the intersection. Often, it’s easier to just go another way. Sometimes, it’s so bad that traffic backs up all the way down the Beltway exit. That’s obviously not safe.

Klaus suggested removing the stop signs.

Nice try, Klaus, but that’s not going to happen.

But there is some good news: Traffic lights.

Because part of that intersection is in the city of Las Vegas and part is in unincorporated Clark County, the two entities are working together to put a light up at Hualapai and Deer Springs. City spokeswoman Margaret Kurtz said the design work is already done and work should begin within the next few months.

But wait! There’s more!

Hualapai is also going to be widened to four lanes, and City Councilman Steve Ross said plans also call for traffic lights at Hualapai and the Beltway and farther down the road at Hualapai and Centennial Parkway.

Lots and lots of you have been noticing potholes lately. I don’t know what’s going on, but the emails keep coming in.

Diana said there are several along the Beltway near Decatur Boulevard, as well as down near Stephanie Street, and a few more she mentioned.

“I wish I could drive the freeways early in the morning and have a can of yellow spray paint to paint them so they would stand out,” she wrote.

Probably not a good idea, Diana.

Claudette said potholes have taken over Durango Road out near Tropicana Avenue. It’s so bad it’s “undrivable,” she said.

Denise was so incensed she wrote to me in ALL CAPS. I’ll translate: Flamingo Road needs some serious help.

Carole complained about Russell Road near the Galleria Mall.

What’s going on?

Nature, that’s what. Physics. Bad luck. Bad workmanship.

I talked with Michael Dunning, the pothole expert at Clark County’s Public Works Department. Every time I asked a question, he pretty much had the same answer: The foundation.

Roads crack. That’s normal. When you pave a road, you have to use something hard. Duh. Hard things crack when the foundation below them moves or softens or otherwise becomes unstable. Water is a common cause of this, which is why we don’t have nearly the pothole problem here in Las Vegas that they have back east. Have y’all driven the roads in Mississippi?

When a crack appears, as they do, it may or may not become a pothole. Dunning, whose official title is quality assurance supervisor, said it depends on traffic, how thick the asphalt is, and if there’s water around.

When a crack appears in the road right where a car’s wheels go, that’s a problem. A single car will drive over it, and the tiny crack will grow. Enough cars, and the crack opens up. Water gets in. The foundation weakens. The crack grows. More cars and more water and more growth, and the next thing you know, that crack ain’t a crack no more. It’s a pothole.

Dunning said some potholes happen because someone, say the power company, chops a hole in the road. When they patch it, maybe they don’t do a good job. Maybe the asphalt is too soft, and it gets all squishy.

So, what should you do?

Feel free to complain here, but I can’t address every single pothole problem. But I do happen to know a guy whose job that is.

In unincorporated Clark County or on the Las Vegas Beltway, call the county’s Public Works Department at 702-455-6000. This number is for complaints. They want your calls.

If you’re in Las Vegas, reach out to the Public Works Department at 702-229-6276. In North Las Vegas, it’s 702-633-1313. In Henderson, call 702-267-3259.

“We don’t like potholes,” Dunning said.

Got a transportation question, comment or gripe? Ship it off to Or tweet to @RJroadwarrior.

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