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New cable barriers spring into action on Summerlin Parkway median

Crews are putting the final touches on a new median for Summerlin Parkway, and it appears the high-tension steel cable barriers are already doing their job.

A green, newer model Volkswagen Beetle was speeding on the eastbound parkway, lost control and crashed into the new median at the Buffalo Drive bridge in the early afternoon Oct. 18, said Mike Janssen, the traffic manager for the city of Las Vegas.

“We believe the new cable barrier system may have saved the driver’s life,” Janssen said.

That’s exactly why the median was built.

Construction on the $2 million project started in June. The barrier is aimed at keeping out-of-control vehicles from veering off the road and causing cross-traffic collisions, which are more likely to result in death or serious injury. The network of cables is supposed to create a springlike effect that supports the weight of vehicles straying from the expressway.

Between 2008 and 2013, five crashes were caused by vehicles that crossed the median and ended up in opposing traffic, leading to three deaths and eight injuries, according to figures provided by the city. In three of those crashes, a wayward driver struck a vehicle headed in the wrong direction.

During the same period, an additional 68 accidents resulted in drivers losing control on the expressway and landing in the median, leading to four deaths and 33 injuries. Of those 73 total accidents, 15 involved drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while four were the result of distracted driving and three were caused by motorists who fell asleep at the wheel.

Shortly after the Beetle crashed into the median last month, crews repaired the damaged posts and reset the high-tension cable within an hour, Janssen said.

“That’s the beauty of this system and why it is the primary system used by state transportation departments across the country: It can be repaired quickly and easily once we are aware of a damaged segment,” Janssen said.

Most of the work on the new median was completed on Oct. 20, more than a month ahead of schedule, but the contractor has until the end of November to wrap up the project, Janssen said. Drivers might see orange traffic cones along the expressway, which are mostly being used for shoulder closures.

RAMP LIGHTS

During his morning commute on U.S. Highway 95, Michael from North Las Vegas recently noticed that the on-ramp signals are not being turned on at Craig Road, Cheyenne Avenue and Lake Mead Boulevard.

What’s going on?

“We only activate ramp meters as needed, during periods of heavy traffic flow,” said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

NDOT and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada monitor traffic flows from a network of 600 cameras trained on freeways and major roads in the region. With the press of a button, workers can make real-time adjustments to signal timing and ramp metering.

The traffic center’s control room is staffed with 20 operators and 10 dispatchers from the Nevada Highway Patrol, who send out road crews and public alerts and adjust signals when needed.

Housed inside the Nevada Highway Patrol’s office just off Sunset Road, the secured hub was established in 2005 as a strategic tool aimed at unclogging gridlocked streets.

SIGN ISN’T SO MISLEADING

David said he spotted several signs designating “left turn on arrow” at several intersections in Henderson. He found the wording to be “misleading,” because it doesn’t specifically state “left turn on green arrow only,” like similar signs found in other cities.

“I take this to mean that turning on a red arrow is permitted,” David said in an email sent to the Road Warrior. “One of those signs is on southbound Eastern Avenue at the Vons shopping center, and I have seen cars make a left turn on the red arrow.”

David wanted to know whether the signs posted at left-turn signals in Henderson are legal or simply a mistake.

David, you should never, ever run a red light, no matter how misleading you believe a sign to be.

Kim Becker, a spokeswoman in Henderson, said the city’s standard sign clearly states “left on green arrow only.” Additionally, these signs are typically used as a supplement — not a requirement — at traffic signals.

“I’m confident there are no illegal signs or printing mistakes,” Becker said. “It is the responsibility of a reasonable and prudent driver to make an appropriate judgment regarding traffic control.”

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

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