Laws vary for ‘Van accessible’ spaces

Last week a reader inquired about the law as it relates to disabled parking. Specifically, the reader wanted to know whether they could park a car with a disabled placard in a space marked “Van accessible.”

In response to the more than 100 phone calls I received — and I apologize if time didn’t allow me to return every one of them — we are going to revisit the subject.

A state official provided the information that a regular vehicle — even with handicap placards — cannot park in the space designated for vans that have the equipment to unload wheelchairs. What neither he nor I realized was that signs and parking laws differ in jurisdictions throughout the state, which causes confusion even among those familiar with the subject.

According to city of Las Vegas spokesman Jace Radke, two types of van accessible spaces exist. If the sign posted simply reads “van accessible,” regular vehicles with handicap license plates or placards may park in those spaces. If the sign says the space is exclusively designated for side-loading vehicles, only vans with special equipment are permitted to park there. Those spaces are far less common in Las Vegas.

Patricia has tunnel vision: I wonder whether you could update me on the progress of the northbound airport connector tunnel. As I’m sure you know, only two lanes are open in the tunnel and once outside, one can drive either to the airport or bypass the airport. When will all three lanes be open again?

All three northbound lanes in the tunnel are expected to be open again in November. North of the tunnel, two lanes will feed traffic to the airport and two will guide motorists along the bypass toward Tropicana Avenue. If you’re driving in the center lane in the tunnel, the world is your oyster and you can choose between the airport and the bypass. Of course once you exit the tunnel, the left lanes will quickly whisk you off to the airport; the right lanes are on their way to the bypass.

Patricia also asked when the connector will open or partially reopen.

The connector tunnel has never been closed. Lanes have been reduced during construction and, as a side note, prepare to see some more of that during the next several months as crews finish up the road system related to Terminal 3.

Skip asks: What is the construction at the intersection of Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard North about? And when is it expected to be completed?

Clearly Skip is frustrated with the intersection, given all the question marks and exclamation points, so I scrambled to get him an answer and calm his nerves. Skip, this is part of that huge North 5th Street project that includes widening 5th to eight lanes, building an overpass across Interstate 15 and linking it to the Las Vegas Beltway. The work you are seeing is the construction of a roundabout at Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, which will feature gateway signage. The project is expected to be completed by the end of December.

This from Lou: I read in the online version of the New York Daily News that all street signs in that city are being replaced because the federal government doesn’t like the font used on the old ones. Apparently, this is costing New York $28 million. Do you know if this affects Las Vegas?

This won’t have any fiscal impact on Las Vegas, according to city spokeswoman Debby Ackerman. The city modified its street signs, using both upper and lower case letters, to comply with federal standards, which were modified in 2004. Ackerman said signs made prior to 2004 will be replaced through their regular life cycle, which is between seven and 10 years, to be in compliance with the new standards.

Ann is irritated: What is going on now at Rancho Drive near the Smith’s shopping center? It seems like there is constant work being done either on Rancho or Martin Luther King Boulevard? Please enlighten me.

Crews have torn up portions of the sidewalk and median at the intersection of Rancho and Palomino Lane in preparation for a traffic signal. This is part of the city of Las Vegas’s $920,000 stimulus funded project that includes three traffic signals and various other road improvements across the city. Back in August, Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian emphasized the importance of the project: “A signal at Rancho and Palomino will help improve the safety of this intersection, which has a lot of traffic associated with Wasden Elementary School.”

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to Include your phone number.

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