Mound House residents frustrated with NDOT speed reduction plan

Carson City Public Works’ senior transportation analyst Kelly Norman explains to Mound House residents July 2 about the process of coordinating of a transportation study, collecting data and the importance of gathering feedback from the public before moving on a strategy for a community that impacts public safety.

Carson City Public Works’ senior transportation analyst Kelly Norman explains to Mound House residents July 2 about the process of coordinating of a transportation study, collecting data and the importance of gathering feedback from the public before moving on a strategy for a community that impacts public safety.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

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Residents attending the July 2 Mound House Advisory Board meeting were at odds on the Nevada Department of Transportation’s proposed plan to lower a portion of the speed limit of the U.S. 50 from 45 mph to 35 mph.

Lacey Tisler, chief traffic safety engineer for NDOT’s Office of Traffic Safety, gave an overview of the speed management plan to lower the limit in a 1.2-mile stretch along the highway extending from the railroad bridge in Mound House to the Battle Born Dispensary. The plan, under consideration, proposes three phases for implementation including sign replacement, enhanced lane markings, flashing LED and feedback signs and improved pedestrian crossings, lighting and drainage improvements.

Tisler said reducing speeds influences people’s tolerances of crashes in an incident. It’s also one of the quickest and more feasible solutions to help save lives after examining intersection-related fatal incidents involving vehicles and pedestrians.

“Adding crossings can’t be done as quickly, and from what I’ve heard from the community, you want us to do something now,” Tisler said. “It shouldn’t be a one-pronged approach. The process requires an intensive design effort.”

But residents and those who frequent the U.S. 50 were skeptical.

Judy Lucas, who has lived in the area for 32 years, said the plan was unlikely to deter speeding drivers.

“Thirty-five mph will not slow anybody down,” she said. “That’s not going to work. We need a light, and we need it now.”

Resident Loyall Fraker, who drives the highway daily, said he drives the limit with many drivers passing him at 75 mph. He said Lyon County Sheriff’s Office deputies are “overtaxed” with other obligations and enforcement.

Amy Davey, division administrator and highway safety director for the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety, said with community support, it’s possible to help change expectations and behaviors concerning ingress and egress. The highway itself

But while most community populations expect NDOT or other local leaders to offer immediate solutions, it takes time to research viable strategies solution, Tisler said. Coordinated efforts with the county commission, which expressed a “different vision” from the public, and other entities is required for a project of this magnitude.

Data from a study conducted by the University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Advanced Transportation and Education that used light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology to monitor vehicle and pedestrian activity along the U.S. 50 in Mound House in a 10-day period this year found most vehicles were traveling at 57 mph, or 12 mph above the posted speed limit. During those 10 days, 340 pedestrians were seen traveling roadside and 650 near-crash, vehicle-to-vehicle conflicts were recorded in which the vehicles were less than two seconds away from colliding. The study shows pedestrian activity and conflict locations were observed in the area of the U.S. 50 and Highlands Drive.

On a global scale, reducing speed by at least 5 mph has been proven to lower fatal or injury crashes according to studies. In Queensland, Australia, reducing the limit on local roads from 37 to 31 mph produced an 88% decrease in fatal crashes and 23% in casualty crashes, according to a study in 1999. In Switzerland, a 1994 study showed lowering the limit from 81 to 75 mph helped reduce fatal crashes by 12%.

Tisler said the proposed speed reduction limits have not been set for Mound House, but staff members needed residents’ input before a decision could be made.

“We all have a part in making this change,” Tisler said. “We need all of us because when we do our road changes, we’re going to need help from you.”

The call for action in part was prompted by the deaths of Mound House resident Ella Rose Márquez Conchas, 10, and Carson High School freshman Lexi Rodriguez, 14, at North Carson Street and Nye Lane, only days apart in January. The mothers of both girls, Rosy Conchas and Katherine Rodriguez, have made appearances before the Mound House Advisory Board and Carson Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) requesting crossing light installations, roundabouts, crosswalks and other safety measures where their daughters died and for other safety measures along the U.S. 50.

But community members say drivers have neglected the speed limit far longer than these recent incidents. Many felt current road solutions or messaging wouldn’t succeed or don’t go far enough to change drivers’ habits.

John Cassinelli, Dayton resident running unopposed for Lyon County Commission’s District 1 seat, viewed NDOT’s speed limit decrease as an expensive solution.

“I would be more likely to support this proposal if I knew that this wasn’t going to be it, if I knew the 35 mph wasn’t going to be a band-aid for a short time and as long as this is a temporary plan and we get to permanent fixes within 10 years or less.”

In a message to community members through social media, Lyon Sheriff Brad Pope said his office has taken action to increase his deputies’ presence and the amount of traffic stops along the U.S. 50 by more than 100%.

“I have spoken to many members of the communities of Mound House and Dayton,” Pope wrote. “The solution offered is not a popular one; however, as a community, we all need to take self-accountability and follow the traffic laws, whether popular or not.”

Mound House Advisory Board chairperson Melinda Cash had spoken up at the Lyon County Commission, asking the board to help take steps to ensure public safety as a top priority in Mound House.

She told the Appeal on July 3 in response to the advisory board meeting while there clearly had been disagreement from the community on the best strategy, she felt the speed reduction was a step that could be taken now.

“I think that it’s healthy, healthy communication and allowing people to feel comfortable to present their opinions, and that’s what you have to have,” she said of the public opinion. “That’s what I was striving for, and everybody’s entitled to their opinions.”

Assemblyman Ken Gray, a former Lyon County commissioner, said he was tired of the ongoing issue and asked residents to e-mail letters of support with the subject line “Highway Safety” that he would forward to the governor, lieutenant governor and the NDOT director by the end of the month requesting that they make safety in Mound House along the U.S. 50 a priority. Letters to Gray can be sent to NDOT also seeks feedback, which can be e-mailed to

In related news, at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Carson Area Metropolitan Planning Organization will discuss and take possible action regarding the status of phase one of the U.S. 50 East Carson Complete Streets Study. This study identifies, evaluates, and recommends potential safety and multimodal transportation improvements along U.S. 50 in east Carson City between Interstate 580 and Highlands Drive in Mound House.


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