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Roundabouts are here to stay in Las Vegas Valley

Roundabouts are increasing in popularity as a way to control speeding drivers across the Las Vegas Valley.

You’ve probably encountered them on the road. There’s one in the east valley at Sahara Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, a couple along Kelso Dunes Avenue in Henderson and several in Summerlin, including the huge Village Center Circle.

Just last month, the Nevada Department of Transportation touted the completion of two new roundabouts in Pahrump along a one-mile stretch of state Route 372 at Blagg Road and Pahrump Valley Boulevard.

Unfortunately, many motorists don’t know how to navigate these one-way circular intersections or understand why they exist.

Roundabouts are widely used in Europe but weren’t introduced to Las Vegas until 1990 as a traffic-calming measure that allows vehicles to freely flow around a center island without the use of stop signs or traffic lights.

Roundabouts can reduce injury accidents by roughly 80 percent compared with intersections equipped with four-way signals, according to a study cited by Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Illia.

“There are fewer places for potential vehicle collisions. Plus, lower roundabout traveling speeds allow for smaller gaps between circulating vehicles, resulting in increased traffic volume and fewer delays with better fuel consumption and improved air pollution,” Illia said. “Consequently, roundabouts see significantly fewer crashes.”

Yielding is the name of the game when it comes to driving through a roundabout. Some rules:

— Slow down and look in both directions, paying particular attention to vehicles coming from your left. Pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers already traveling in the roundabout have the right-of-way.

— Enter the roundabout when you see a good-sized gap in traffic and travel counterclockwise while following the posted speed limit.

— Do not stop for vehicles waiting to enter the roundabout.

— Use your turn signal when exiting.

Freeway improvements

Anyone who’s driven Interstate 15 in North Las Vegas has noticed some major road work. NDOT started construction last fall on a $33.8 million project that calls for the addition of two lanes of traffic in each direction of the freeway between Craig Road and Speedway Boulevard.

Tom from Las Vegas wanted to know whether NDOT will also repave the existing freeway lanes.

“I travel the section between Lamb Road and Craig Road almost daily, and I can tell you that these existing lanes are in desperate need of repaving,” Tom wrote in an email to the Road Warrior.

I know exactly what you’re talking about, Tom, as do many other commuters.

And yes, NDOT plans to fix the existing areas of the highway.

“The project, in fact, requires placing 166,500 tons of asphalt, or enough blacktop to pave about 33,300 average-sized driveways,” Illia said.

Plans also call for brighter lights, new signs, landscaping improvements and seismic upgrades to four overpass bridges along the 5-mile stretch of freeway.

The project, NDOT officials said, is aimed at alleviating massive traffic jams caused during events held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, including NASCAR race days and the Electric Daisy Carnival.

Construction is expected to wrap up by early 2018.

Logjammed offramp

Casey from Henderson wanted to know whether officials in her city planned to deal with traffic jams along the westbound 215 Beltway at Pecos Road.

“This section of the 215 is all too often slowed by impatient drivers who cut the line,” Casey said.

NDOT is completing a regional traffic study that will evaluate all of the local freeways, with a special focus on areas known for backups, Henderson city spokeswoman Kim Becker said. However, the results won’t be available for another 18 months.

In the meantime, Becker said, the city is working with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s traffic management center to refine signal timing for the offramp and surrounding intersections.

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

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