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Project planned to make part of Charleston Boulevard safer for pedestrians

A mile-long, $2 million road project designed to make Charleston Boulevard safer for pedestrians will begin in late summer and last five months.

Traffic lanes would be closed only at night, Nevada Transportation Department officials said at a community meeting Tuesday night.

Two pieces of Charleston will be affected, from Hillside Place to Burnham Avenue and from Arden Street to Nellis Boulevard. The Transportation Department has jurisdiction of the street because Charleston is also State Route 159. The project’s eastern chunk is about a mile east of the U.S. Highway 95 interchange with Charleston; the western portion is about 2 miles west of U.S. 95.

The project will include resurfacing and restriping the roadway, enhancing safety by constructing “bulb out” curb extensions and widening median islands, improving street lighting, reducing lane widths and reducing accidents resulting from left turns at minor cross streets.

Engineers have proposed “Danish offset” pedestrian refuge areas and pedestrian-activated flashing beacons at 17th Street and at Lamont Street. Danish offsets feature a turn in direction for pedestrians in the middle of the street that enable those pedestrians to face oncoming traffic before crossing the street from the midway point.

Program Manager Lori Campbell of the Transportation Department’s traffic safety engineering division, said narrowing lanes and adding sidewalk extensions that shorten the distance a pedestrian must walk to cross a street should help slow traffic on the busy road that sees 56,000 vehicles a day, according to state traffic counts.

The project won’t eliminate existing traffic lanes but will narrow them. On the western project, there are four lanes of traffic and on the eastern portion, there are six lanes.

“We’ve found that when the lanes are a little tighter, motorists take extra caution and tend to slow down,” Campbell said.

The one-mile stretch of Charleston has been the scene of 498 traffic accidents from 2007 to 2010, a road safety audit conducted in February 2011 shows.

Four pedestrians and one motorist have died in that area. Also, 285 people have been injured in accidents in the area.

A small group that attended Tuesday’s public meeting had no comments, but the Transportation Department is taking public input through March 11 by mail addressed to Campbell at 1263 S. Stewart St., Carson City, 89712, or by email to info@dot.state.nv.us

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

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