Carson sees spike in traffic deaths

A car travels west on Highway 50 at the turn from Highway 341, the road to Virginia City, last year.

A car travels west on Highway 50 at the turn from Highway 341, the road to Virginia City, last year.

Nevada recorded just about the same number of traffic deaths in 2013 as it did the year before, just three fewer at 259 compared to 262.

But Carson City saw a spike in fatalities — five compared with just one in 2012.

For Carson City and neighboring Lyon County, the most dangerous area for drivers is the U.S. Highway 50 corridor from Dayton to the bypass overpass, where five people died in two crashes between June and the end of July. That sobering statistic, along with the fact that 26 people have died in wrecks between the Churchill County line and Carson Street in the past six years, prompted Sheriff Ken Furlong to join with his counterparts from Lyon and Churchill and the Nevada Highway Patrol to stress driver safety on that stretch of road.

Intensive enforcement and increased patrols have helped make the road much safer overall, Furlong says.

“By and large, drivers are acting more appropriate,” he said in November.

But Furlong said that if the patrols were reduced, drivers would quickly revert to their old, bad habits. He said the long-term answer is the road-reconstruction project the Nevada Department of Transportation will put out to bid this month.

The $7.3 million project involves repaving the highway from Alfonso in the industrial area east of State Route 341 almost all the way to Deer Run Road in Carson City.

More important, according to NDOT engineers, the project includes significant safety improvements. The intersection of Highway 50 and State Route 341 to Virginia City will get a makeover, including an acceleration lane for cars headed to Carson City and a left lane for those heading to Virginia City, all separated by raised concrete medians. It also will create a new and improved intersection at Flint Drive, the road to the landfill.

A key safety improvement in the plan is installation of a concrete barrier from Flint Drive down the hill to Carson City, effectively preventing head-on crashes caused by drivers drifting into the oncoming lanes.

NDOT officials plan to have the work completed by fall.

While the number of fatal wrecks increased in Carson City, it was basically flat in Lyon County — down from seven to six.

But Washoe County saw a significant improvement as its number of traffic fatalities went from 32 in 2012 to 19 in 2013. The news was good in Churchill County as well — just one fatality compared with four in 2012.

NHP Trooper Chuck Allen said that while the statewide total was about the same, the number of fatalities involving pedestrians and motorcycles was up statewide.

The number of pedestrian deaths increased from 59 to 65, while motorcycle fatalities rose from 38 to 51.

In both cases, the primary problem area is Clark County, which saw 51 pedestrians killed compared with 43 a year earlier and 39 motorcyclists die compared with 25.

“It truly comes down to always focusing on the road and being safe while driving, walking or riding,” Allen said.


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