The world may be ending, but the road complaints go on

With the Mayan-prophesied apocalypse just a little more than two weeks away, the Road Warrior finds local motorists to be sweating the small stuff in this week’s installment of questions.

So here you go, nonbelievers. Just remember when our world turns upside down on Dec. 21, don’t come whining to the ol’ Road Warrior:

We open today with Amanda, a self-admitted creature of habit who travels the same way to and from work in the east valley. She says she has noticed over the years that when we go back to standard time in the fall, she seems to hit all 10 red lights on Desert Inn Road as she heads home, whereas during daylight saving time, she might hit three or four.

“When daylight savings time ends,” Amanda asks, “does traffic control leave the timing of traffic lights as is or do they change it back?”

The Road Warrior broke away from his doomsday stockpiling of all things Chef Boyardee and Ramen to inquire, and got this response from Brian Hoeft, director of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s Freeway Arterial and System of Transportation: “Technicians at FAST adjust the timers controlling traffic signals throughout the valley to coincide with time changes. In this case, however, the position of the sun during the two weeks following daylight savings time could’ve caused a glare that disrupted the video detection along Desert Inn, interfering with the timing of the traffic signals.”

The Road Warrior hopes better travel for Amanda … for what’s left of the next 16 days.

Nathaniel is concerned by frequent tie-ups in both directions on Spring Mountain Road, when the ramp meter at the Interstate 15 southbound onramp creates backups – westbound drivers who cleared the left-turn light but are stopped in the intersection by the backup, and eastbound drivers who can’t get through the intersection because of the westbound backup. He asks: “Can the timing of the ramp meters be done better to prevent the backup, which clogs up the intersection?”

We turn again to Hoeft, who says FAST is aware of the situation: “The ramp meters from eastbound Spring Mountain onto southbound I-15 are vital to the flow of traffic on the freeway as congestion is higher between Flamingo and Desert Inn roads. In order to minimize backups on the onramp, FAST technicians have adjusted the meters so they turn off for 90 seconds when a backup occurs, allowing the vehicles to clear the ramp.

“If traffic is moving smoothly on the freeway, the meters are set at the highest rate, allowing the greatest number of vehicles to enter the freeway in an organized manner. Technicians observed data from that ramp meter the past two weeks and noted that during peak weekday hours about 15 vehicles entered the freeway every minute. In addition to FAST’s efforts, the Nevada Department of Transportation added a lane to the ramp to increase capacity.

“If the ramp is full, motorists are advised not to make the left turn onto southbound I-15 but wait for the ramp to clear or for the next green turn arrow.”

Sometimes a reader’s question turns into a public service, such as this one from Peter about a traffic light issue on Rancho Drive at Rancho Circle. “I go through this area two or three times per week, usually right before 7 a.m. I never see any cross traffic entering or exiting the development, but the light on Rancho is often red for a long time, causing traffic on Rancho to back up. Do you know why this signal turns red and stays red so long with no cross traffic present?”

Jace Radke, city of Las Vegas spokesman, answers: “We checked the signal at the intersection and found the vehicle detection has failed. This puts in automatic calls to serve the east-west vehicles even when there are none present. We’re working to repair the vehicle detection and return the signal to normal operations.”

And here’s the kicker, Peter: “We appreciate the Road Warrior’s readers noticing these issues for us. It helps to have extra eyes out on our many, many miles of roads.”

Paul wonders about a flashing four-way stoplight at the intersection of Nellis Boulevard and Sun Valley Drive, on the east side of the valley: Is it a holdover from when that area was undeveloped? Or is it just a forgotten artifact?

Nope and nope. It’s there for safety, as Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin explains: “We installed this red flashing light at the four-way stop in the 1990s to improve safety at the intersection. Nellis is 100 feet wide there, and there were also sight visibility concerns with the placement of stop signs.”

We can hear Damiano impatiently tapping his foot as we read his question. He wants to know the status of the Interstate 15 interchange at Cactus Avenue, in the extreme southern valley, which has been discussed since 2008: “Nothing but studies, announced approvals, delays, new announced approvals. This project was supposed to be completed long ago. Why is it stalled?”

News flash! Government bureaucracy moves slowly, and changes occur often. Actually, there is a reason – and good news – according to Damon Hodge, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation: “Initially, this was a county project, but the county eventually shelved it. NDOT took over in 2010 and now is only a few weeks off the schedule we publicized then. We’re looking to begin construction in the spring.”

Provided there is no apocalypse, that is.

If you have traffic questions or gripes, email them to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please be specific, and include your phone number. Not all questions can be answered in print. Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter: @RJroadwarrior.

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