NDOT announces plans for traffic lights at dangerous intersection | NevadaAppeal.com

NDOT announces plans for traffic lights at dangerous intersection

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus

The Nevada Department of Transportation said Thursday the most dangerous intersection in Churchill County should have traffic lights installed within one to two years depending on funding.

County commissioners have considered the intersection at Sheckler Cutoff-U.S.Highway 50-Roberson Lane to be their No. 1 priority with the state because of the number of crashes. According to NDOT statistics for 2015-2017, the intersection has had 13 crashes, one of which was fatal in 2015. Two other fatal crashes have occurred at the intersection, in 2007 and 2010.

During the past decade, according to NDOT records, the intersection has been the site of 38 crashes and 15 injuries. After a 17-year-old Round Mountain teenager was killed in April 2010, NDOT placed rumble strips on Sheckler and installed a larger stop sign with a flashing amber light.

Meg Ragonese, NDOT's public information officer, said in a press release traffic safety is the agency's top priority.

In view of a number of evaluations undertaken at the intersection, Ragonese said NDOT is planning to install a traffic signal. She said the U.S. 50 and Sheckler Road intersection meets specific federally-prescribed prerequisites needed to consider the installation.

"To ensure that any future intersection changes at the U.S. 50 and Sheckler Road intersection are the most safe, effective and appropriate for current and future travel demands, we analyzed a full range of traffic safety improvements," Ragonese said. "We expedited a traffic signal warrant analysis at the intersection. We also conducted intersection evaluations to closely analyze all potential intersection enhancements and determine the intersection improvements which will make the more than 13,000 trips through the intersection daily as safe as possible."

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Ragonese said the final evaluation and design of a traffic signal will be conducted in conjunction with Churchill County. Furthermore, she said NDOT will identify funding for the traffic signal.

Until the installation of a traffic signal, the intersection remains dangerous. A crash that occurred at Roberson and U.S. Highway 50 on Wednesday resulted in two minor injuries. The NHP told the Lahontan Valley News the driver of one vehicle was cited for failure to yield right of way for not stopping at the intersection and driving into the path of a westbound vehicle. Most of the crashes at the intersection, according to the NHP, have been the result of driver inattention.

At their July meeting, commissioners told NDOT they are concerned with the accidents at the intersection and would like the state to look at solutions to mitigate the number of crashes. Both the commissioners and NDOT officials looked at two options, a traffic signal or roundabout. The cost of a roundabout, though, would exceed $3-4 million and take longer to complete with the county providing a share of the cost through matching funds.

Ragonese said utilities, including overhead power lines, must be moved to make room for construction. Once everything falls into place, Ragonese said the goal is to have a signal at the intersection within two years.

Lee Bonner, a planner with NDOT, told commissioners in July he didn't think a roundabout at Sheckler and U.S.Highway 50 was feasible. Since Highway 50 is a federal highway and Sheckler is maintained by the state, NDOT is responsible for the upkeep.

At the commissioners' second meeting in October, a handful of county residents expressed their frustration with NDOT's slowness in dealing with the intersection. County resident Jarrod Mesloh said vehicles drive in excess of 65 mph through the intersection, which makes it dangerous for motorists who are trying to access the highway.

Fallon-Fernley Sgt. Brian Cavanaugh told the LVN troopers are patrolling the intersection to ensure motorists are turning on to the highway in a safe manner.