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Windmill blades winding way to California

We see so many strange things in Las Vegas that we hardly blink an eye when something out of the ordinary pops up. This first question, however, relates to odd cargo along U.S. Highway 95 that has captured the attention of a handful of motorists.

This thanks to Roger: I’ve Googled this question without finding a response: Where are the huge windmill blades headed that I keep seeing being trucked on Highway 95 north? I’ve seen at least a dozen during my morning commute and later in the day on weekends too.

The windmills blades originate in Arizona and, typically in a convoy of eight trucks, travel up U.S. Highway 93, across the Hoover Dam bypass bridge and on north U.S. 95, eventually hooking up with Interstate 80 and continuing on to California.

So far, Roger, there have been 120 loads of windmill blades, said Michelle Booth of the Nevada Department of Transportation. And while I haven’t seen them, you’re not kidding — huge, indeed. They are 12 feet wide and 190 feet long, which means they need a special permit from the Department of Transportation and must have a pilot car and flashing signs warning of the wide load. Expect to see them throughout the summer.

I tried to figure out exactly where these windmills are headed, but California, which has wind farms up and down the state, is as specific as I could find.

Neal is perplexed: I drive the 95 from Centennial Hills to the Strip and back every day. Why does it seem that the workers are tearing down concrete sound walls, only to rebuild them in the same place?

This is part of the widening project along U.S. 95. To expand the freeway, the Nevada Department of Transportation had to tear down the sound walls. They are rebuilding them, but the federal requirements for sounds walls have changed, and the new walls will be higher than the original walls. If the breaking down and building up appears to be outside of the construction area, that is because federal rules also require the transportation agency to modify the walls along the entire stretch so that they too meet the new Federal Highway Administration mandates.

Just as a side note, there are no strict guidelines that dictate when sound walls must be erected. This, however, is a widening project that is partially funded with federal money, and anytime that happens, these walls must be built. As a side, side note, sound walls are said to cut the freeway noise in half.

This from a frustrated caller: I have a handicap placard and recently parked in a city of Las Vegas space that said "van accessible," and received a parking ticket. I thought that any vehicle with handicap placards could park in those spaces. Is that not true?

We’ve addressed this before, but it is worth repeating because it is confusing. Different jurisdictions, meaning cities and counties, have varying laws regarding these signs, and parking enforcement officers also seem to be confused about the interpretation.

In the city of Las Vegas, however, officials say that the van accessible signs are simply informing disabled motorists that the space can accommodate vans with side-loading equipment. Vehicles with handicap license plates or placards are legally permitted to use those slots. Signs do exist that say the space is exclusive to vans with special equipment, but they are very clear and very rare.

This question came from yours truly: I hit a pothole so hard on Interstate 15 south near Sahara Avenue the other day, I swear if I was on a motorcycle, it would have tossed me a mile. This is frustrating when we pay taxes to fund the road, then we also have to pay to fix our tire because of a poorly maintained road. Is there any recourse?

This is what I learned from the Department of Transportation: First of all, the department keeps a log of complaints about potholes, and they are passed along to maintenance crews. The crews probably will go do a patch job fairly quickly and then return later to do a permanent fix. If you have a complaint, call 385-6500. If you’ve hit the same canyon of a pothole that I did, it might or might not be comforting to know that it is expected to be permanently fixed next week.

Gary would like some access: I see on top of virtually every traffic light post a set of cameras, some stationary and some with obvious pan and tilt capabilities. I assume these are for traffic monitoring purposes? If so, why can’t we access the feeds of these cameras? The RTC’s FAST site has a few we can see but only on the major roads. It seems to me all of those images should be made public somewhere, or am I missing the point to these?

The answer to this is two-fold, Gary. The cameras you see fastened to traffic signals on smaller streets don’t always provide an image, even to the Regional Transportation Commission’s Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST). The cameras simply send data indicating the traffic flow on the street, which allows engineers to adjust the signals accordingly. In many cases, the cameras have replaced loops that used to be installed underneath the asphalt, triggering the signal when a vehicles pulls up to an intersection.

As you noted, images along arterial roads are available on the Regional Transportation Commission’s website. They are supposed to be, anyway. The cameras have been less than reliable of late because of all the road construction going on around town. Whenever there is significant road work, the fiber optic cables are disturbed, interrupting the image feed.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Include your phone number.

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