Before freeways came to Las Vegas, there was Boulder Highway.
At the time it was built during the 1930s, the 16-mile stretch of open road allowed drivers to quickly zip between Henderson and downtown Las Vegas. But the city’s gradual growth changed Boulder Highway’s landscape with businesses and homes, making it more of a high-speed arterial street.
Naturally, those changes brought out the pedestrians and bicyclists onto a busy road that was never built to accommodate them.
With three traffic lanes and a designated bus lane running in each direction, Boulder Highway’s width, mixed with speeding vehicles, simply makes it too dangerous — even deadly — to cross.
Between July 2011 and July 2016, 116 pedestrians were struck by vehicles along Boulder Highway, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation. Of those, 31 were killed and 18 others were seriously injured.
“It’s kind of scary to cross that big, wide road,” Lori Campbell, NDOT’s project coordinator overseeing the Boulder Highway improvements.
Help is finally on the way.
Work is expected to start by fall on a $3 million project aimed at improving pedestrian safety along Boulder Highway, focusing on eight intersections and midblock segments between Oakey Boulevard to the north and Racetrack Road to the south.
By this time next year, Campbell said a series of flashing red beacons will warn drivers to stop when pedestrians step into new crosswalks at Oakey, the Boulder Palms apartment complex at 4350 Boulder Highway, Whitney Avenue, Hamilton Avenue, Foster Avenue, Corn Street, Lowery Street and the Veterans Affairs health clinic at 1020 South Boulder Highway.
In most of those areas, the wide medians will be slightly extended to create “pedestrian islands,” where slow-moving walkers can stop and press another button that will trigger the red beacons to continue their journey across the wide highway. Traffic controls will also be placed between the medians to clearly designate where vehicles can safely turn.
“We’ve been getting jaywalking tickets for the last two years, and I use a walker to help me get around,” John Frasier, a resident of Boulder Palms Apartments, told Campbell during a meeting held Thursday at Ferron Elementary School.
“It’s nice that we’ll get this in the future,” Campbell said. “But from now until then, it’s going to be tough.”
NDOT is working with Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson to develop a larger series of pedestrian safety improvements along Boulder Highway, Campbell said.
The upcoming improvements was good news for Mary Antee, who lives near Corn Street and Boulder Highway.
“I’ve seen many people die near that intersection, and I’m really in favor of creating a better advantage for pedestrians,” Antee said. “I think it’s going to be better. It’s a start.”
Shea from Henderson is concerned about the growing amount of traffic on Jeffreys Street at St. Rose Parkway. Apparently, it’s becoming pretty difficult to make a left turn out of Jeffreys, which is equipped with a traffic signal but no protected arrow.
“Multiple cars run the red light daily,” Shea wrote in an email to the Road Warrior. “There’s an apartment complex being built right by this stoplight, and traffic is only going to get worse.”
A left-turn arrow will be added to the traffic signal, Henderson spokeswoman Kim Becker said. But it’s unclear when that will happen.
“The city works with a contractor on these types of changes, and we have been keeping them busy with a number of critical projects,” Becker said. “But this one is on the list to be taken care of as soon as resources allow.”
MORE GREEN TIME
Bob from Las Vegas wanted to know whether Clark County officials plan to install left-turn arrows for the traffic signals at Flamingo Road and McLeod Drive.
“Quite often, only one or two cars can make a left turn before the light changes,” Bob said.
Rather than installing a protected arrow, county officials recently extended the timing for the green light at this intersection, “which should help with this concern” county spokesman Dan Kulin said.
Rob from Las Vegas wanted to know whether county officials plan to install a traffic signal at Valley View Boulevard and Cactus Avenue in the Southern Highlands area. Rob says he was contacted the office of County Commissioner Susan Brager, whose district includes the intersection.
“I was told that the light was planned and approved, and should be installed by January,” Rob said. “Now I heard the signal might not come until May or June. What’s the delay?”
I’m not sure why there’s a delay, but Kulin said that construction is expected to “begin in the new few months and completed this summer.”
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ROAD WORK AHEAD
■ Charleston Boulevard will be restricted in both directions between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Shadow Lane from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Friday. Crews are installing new water and sewer lines.
■ Lake Mead Boulevard will be restricted between Nellis Boulevard and Ringe Lane from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through March 24. Crews are completing sewer work.
■ Nellis Boulevard will be restricted between Washington Avenue and Lake Mead Boulevard from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Friday. Crews are completing sewer work.
■ Stanley Avenue will be restricted near Nellis Boulevard from March 20 to March 31. Crews are completing sewer work.
■ Durango Drive is restricted at the 215 Beltway through Friday for bridge installation.
■ Commerce Street is restricted between Wyoming Avenue and Main Street through March 31 for road improvements.
■ Washington Avenue will be restricted between Rainbow and Decatur boulevards from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through March. Crews are improving sidewalk ramps and surface drainage.
■ Traffic will be redirected and reduced to one lane in each direction of U.S. Highway 95 for about a mile in Boulder City through March. Crews are building a bridge over the highway for the future Interstate 11 corridor.
■ Hopi Lane will be restricted between Bonanza Road and Harris Avenue from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays until April 7. Crews are completing sewer work.
■ The inside lanes of Interstate 15 will be closed in both directions between U.S. Highway 95 and Owens Avenue until 5 a.m. April 7. Crews are building support columns for new traffic management signs.
■ Lone Mountain Road is restricted between Cliff Shadows Parkway and the 215 Beltway until April 22. Crews are working on an overpass.
■ Southbound Durango Road will be restricted between Wigwam Avenue and Blue Diamond Road from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through April 28. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Warm Springs Road exit from the eastbound 215 Beltway will be closed through June. Crews are building a new bridge over the highway.
■ Northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between Craig Road and the Beltway from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays through June. Crews are working on the Centennial Bowl ramps.
■ Southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between Durango Drive and Ann Road from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays through June. Crews are working on the Centennial Bowl ramps.
■ Oakey Boulevard is closed between Main and Commerce streets through July. Crews are installing underground utilities and storm drain infrastructure.
■ Summerlin Parkway’s westbound lanes will be restricted between Buffalo Drive and Rampart Boulevard through July. Crews are building a new auxiliary lane and making other improvements.
■ The 13-mile scenic route at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area will be repaved in one-mile increments through summer.
■ Sections of Bonneville Avenue, Charleston Boulevard, Grand Central Parkway and Martin Luther King Boulevard will have closed or disrupted lanes surrounding the Spaghetti Bowl as crews work on Project Neon through July 2018.
The average gasoline price Friday in the Las Vegas Valley was $2.57 per gallon. It was $2.62 in Nevada. The national average of $2.30 is down 2 cents from a week ago, up 3 cents from a month ago and up 46 cents from a year ago.