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NDOT rejects criticism of steel-cable barriers in Southern Nevada

High-tension steel-cable barriers are increasingly being used on Southern Nevada roadways as a low-cost way to improve the safety of motorists who crash into a median.

A cable barrier system was installed along much of the Summerlin Parkway median at the end of 2016, and will also be used on wide swaths of Interstate 11 when it opens by the end of July.

The network of high-tension cables is supposed to create a springlike effect that supports the weight of vehicles straying from the road.

However, opponents like Don from Las Vegas refer to the wire ropes as “cheese cutter” barriers, claiming they are dangerous to motorcyclists during a crash.

“I’ve raised this issue with the Nevada Department of Transportation and others, but they say ‘so what’ and continue to use the barriers,” Don wrote in an email to the Road Warrior.

NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said the system of wire ropes, supported by steel posts, “provide crucial flexibility, stretching and absorbing the crash force for greater motorist safety.”

Illia also said that the term “cheese cutter” is a “derogatory and inaccurate” misnomer because the wire rope barriers use a dual mechanism to slow a vehicle while diverting excessive force away from the motorist and passengers.

Concrete medians, however, don’t have the same springlike qualities and simply smash up a vehicle, leading to greater injuries and vehicle damage.

“Ropes deflect and absorb the energy and the posts collapse, slowing down and redirecting the vehicle away from the hazard with very little rebound,” Illia said. “In fact, research has proven that wire rope safety barriers are the most forgiving system available, greatly increasing crash victim survival rates compared with other available road barriers.”

Green Valley bumps

Joyce from Henderson wanted to know whether city officials were planning to resurface and repair Green Valley Parkway at the eastbound 215 Beltway exit.

“The exit ramp itself was repaired about a year or two ago, but getting onto the street is pretty bad,” Joyce said. “I have to go slowly over this section, knowing that the cars behind me are accelerating.”

Kathleen Richards, a spokeswoman for the city of Henderson, said there are plans to resurface Green Valley Parkway as part of an upcoming project, but it was unclear when that might happen.

No special lane here

Dave from Las Vegas says eastbound Oakey Boulevard is “screaming for a right-turn-only lane” at Rancho Drive and wanted to know if city officials had any plans to make it happen.

Margaret Kurtz, a spokeswoman for the city of Las Vegas, said there are no immediate plans to install a right-turn lane here because a costly right-of-way land acquisition would be needed to complete the project.

More ‘green time’ needed

Jill from Las Vegas states that the traffic signal at eastbound Craig Road does not provide enough “green time” for drivers turning left onto Camino del Oro in the northwest valley. And, she says, the “walk” signal automatically activates when pedestrians are not around.

Kurtz, the city spokeswoman, said the city will look into the signal timing, which is based on vehicle demand on a given time of the day. As for the pedestrian signal automatically turning on, Kurtz said that it’s standard city policy to have it synced to the traffic signal on major roadways like Craig Road.

Pacing on Pecos

Joan from Las Vegas wanted to know why the speed limit is 35 mph for Pecos Road between Warm Springs and Sunset roads. The speed limit north of Sunset is 45 and south of Warm Springs is 40 mph, but that short in-between area requires drivers to slow down.

“The police seem to love this area and hide in the driveways to catch speeders,” Joan said.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said the speed is reduced along this section of Pecos because the road is dotted with residential driveways and is not equipped with “full improvements” such as sidewalks.

Kulin also noted that there are “reduced speed ahead” signs posted at both ends of Pecos to alert motorists to the 35 mph zone.

Rough ride on Eastern

Ronald from Las Vegas wanted to know when county crews plan to resurface a bumpy section of southbound Eastern Avenue approaching Silverado Ranch Boulevard.

Kulin, the county spokesman, said there’s a plan to smooth out this section of Eastern but it’s unclear when that might happen.

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow @RJroadwarrior on Twitter.

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