The stretch of U.S. Highway 50 from Silver Springs to Carson City has fewer crashes than average but more fatalities, Transportation Department experts say.
Tom Greco, assistant director of the department, presented board members with a briefing sheet stating the fatality rate for that stretch of road is triple the urban average in Nevada and double the rural average per million miles. The data indicates the total crash rate is just about one-third the state’s urban average, although it’s a bit higher than the rural average.
Greco and NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon told the Transportation board the first major step in correcting those problems began in August with the Zero-Tolerance Campaign — increased enforcement by the Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies from both Carson City and Lyon County, as well as education and other efforts by the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Office of Traffic Safety.
As a result, Greco said, there were zero fatalities from July through September 2013, compared with four in the same period of 2012 despite average traffic loads of up to 25,000 vehicles a day.
That campaign comes to an end next month, he said, but he added that his planners are already working on long-term answers to make that stretch of road more safe. Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said in an earlier interview that once the special enforcement teams are pulled from the highway, drivers will quickly revert to their old and dangerous driving habits.
Greco said the audit recommends installation of raised median islands in several areas to improve access control, installation of a median barrier in an attempt to prevent head-on crashes, and cable median barriers in areas where the highway is divided, plus more consistent use of rumble strips to let people know when their vehicle crosses a lane.
At the end of this month, Malfabon said, the first major step in long-term improvements — a $7.3 million contract including restructuring of two major intersections and installation of other safety improvements — will be put out to bid.
That project includes the median barrier from Flint Drive leading to the Carson landfill down the hill almost to Deer Run Road to prevent head-on crashes. It includes redesigning the Flint Drive intersection and the intersection of U.S. 50 and State Route 341 to Virginia City. In addition, the contract will upgrade lighting along the road.