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‘Three-quarters traffic signal’ surprises northwest Las Vegas motorists

Oh, Azure Drive, why do you vex the residents of northwest Las Vegas?

Warriors past have discussed the curious case of Azure, an east-west street with a tantalizing direct link between residential neighborhoods and Centennial Center, a huge retail center with a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Sam’s Club, a Home Depot and a row of tasty restaurants with national brands.

Azure is the only street between the 215 Beltway and Ann Road with an uncomplicated bridge with no freeway exit or entrance ramps over U.S. Highway 95.

Yet the city of Las Vegas discourages traffic along Azure by filling it with speed bumps and a street feature that I don’t think exists anywhere else in the valley (although I’m sure alert readers will tell me if I’m wrong about that).

It’s described as a “three-quarters traffic signal” at Azure and Jones Boulevard.

The intersection has a conventional traffic signal, but unconventional traffic islands and signage.

If you’re traveling west on Azure, when you get to Jones, you have to turn left or right, even though there’s plenty of room to go straight and make your way to the retail center. Likewise, eastbound traffic on Azure must turn north or south on Jones.

Warrior reader Gerald was the latest to express some frustration:

“I live in the northwest part of town and if you are driving east or west on Azure you must turn north or south on Jones. I want to go straight through the intersection. Why can’t I ? What is the history on this?”

Well, Gerald, the easy answer to “Why can’t I?” is that the city of Las Vegas says so. But it has its reasons and, as you intimated, there’s some history behind this.

City spokeswoman Susie Martinez said the reason for the unusual traffic pattern is because motorists were using Azure as “a cut-through street,” that is, a street in a residential neighborhood that motorists were using as a thoroughfare.

“Azure is just a 60-foot right-of-way minor residential collector and was never intended to carry large volumes of traffic,” Martinez explained. “We have numerous homes that front Azure just west of Jones, and even after trying speed humps, the road was still being used as a cut-through.”

She explained that originally, Azure and Jones weren’t supposed to have a traffic signal but instead a median island that would restrict all traffic on Azure to right turns only.

“A neighborhood meeting was held with Councilman Steve Ross before the signal went in to discuss options for the Azure corridor, and out of this meeting came the idea for a ‘three-quarter traffic signal’ that would not allow eastbound and westbound thru movements but would provide a pedestrian phase to cross Jones and would also allow eastbound and westbound left turns.”

And that’s what we have today.

I was curious to see how Google Maps would direct a motorist on a simple route in which the most direct way would be to go straight through the intersection. I’ve seen dozens of motorists do this illegal maneuver.

The program dutifully directed me to turn left on Jones and go south to Tropical Parkway and west on Tropical before heading back north to Azure.

For what it’s worth, the residents of Azure, who no doubt like that the city has made an effort to slow down traffic in front of their homes, still have to make a few extra turns to get to the U.S. post office at Azure and Jones.

But it’s not a burden because of the traffic light at the intersection.

HE LIKES BIKES

Warrior reader William thinks we could use a few more bike lanes, especially those bright green ones.

“Who do we contact to get bike trails painted on streets where they are really needed? Also, why couldn’t more of them be painted green? Drivers really notice the green ones, and I know the bikes couldn’t wear the paint out as fast as cars do on the streets.”

I can almost hear the Munchkins singing, “Follow the lime-green road.”

City Hall’s Martinez said the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is the central planning agency for all things transportation.

“All of the entities — the city of Las Vegas, the city of North Las Vegas, Clark County and the city of Henderson — work directly with them to plan, prioritize and seek funding for implementing things like bike lanes and other roadway improvements. The primary contact would be Raymond Hess at 702-676-1729,” she said.

“As for the city of Las Vegas, any citizen can contact our Transportation Engineering Division at 702-229-6327, our main number, and make recommendations for bike lanes, and every request we get we will investigate the feasibility and advise if the location might already be planned for bike lanes.”

As for those Shrek-colored lanes, Martinez said they’re a little pricey to create and maintain, so they’re limiting them to the downtown core.

The city of Henderson, however, notices how much the color jumps off the road and attracts attention.

“We recently installed green bike lanes on Horizon Drive through the new diverging-diamond interchange at U.S. Highway 95,” Henderson spokesman Keith Paul said.

“The green bike lanes were installed to highlight conflict areas where all road users need to use extra caution, such as at right-turn lanes or crossings,” he said. “We are working toward implementing more of these green bike lanes throughout the city in the future.”

As far as recommending a new bike lane for Henderson, Paul suggests going to cityofhenderson.com and click on “Contact Henderson” to log a request.

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

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