Accident causes new worries about Fifth Street intersection
Appeal Staff Writer
Residents living near the intersection of Fifth and South Minnesota streets are concerned for their safety after a traffic accident earlier this week resulted in a vehicle nearly slamming into a home.
John and Barbara Silberman, who live next to the intersection, were sleeping when a car crashed through their front-yard fence and landed on its side partly in their driveway around 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“We don’t know what happened,” Barbara Silberman said. She and her husband were asleep when they heard noise outside and discovered “a car in the driveway on its side, and the fence knocked down.”
The car also knocked out shrubs and came close to striking an old Cottonwood tree before it finally stopped moving, she said.
Something similar happened to the couple in 1998, when a traffic accident resulted in a vehicle coming into their yard. They weren’t home when that accident happened, Silberman said.
Safety in that intersection has been brought to the city’s attention repeatedly during the years. Suggestions to alleviate the situation have included adding stop signs on Fifth Street and making the intersection a four-way stop, or adding street undulations to slow vehicles. Drivers have the right-of-way traveling Fifth Street while those on Minnesota Street have stop signs to observe before crossing through the intersection.
Adding stop signs to the intersection isn’t feasible because another four-way stop exists less than 200 feet away at the intersection of Fifth and Division streets, said Harvey Brotzman, senior engineer for the Regional Transportation Commission. He added that undulations aren’t practical, at least on Fifth, because it’s a collector street. The posted speed limit on Fifth is 25 mph.
The word “stop” was painted on the street as a warning to drivers on Minnesota not to roll in front of vehicles on Fifth, but the warning apparently was covered up a few years ago during a slurry-sealing treatment, Brotzman said.
The city plans to re-paint “stop” on both sides of Minnesota next week. However, it’s not a solution, he said, because the problem existed before the in-street warnings were paved over. And the paint used to make the warnings shine at night loses its luster quickly once snow falls and plows scratch the paint repeatedly, he said.
Sheriff Kenny Furlong knows the intersection well. He grew up not far from there and has seen a lot of accidents. After watching the traffic and clocking speeds, he can’t see how other traffic-related additions would do much good. There’s nothing there to impair drivers’ visibility as they approach the intersection, though there is some speeding.
“Traffic control there is appropriate to the neighborhood, but I don’t disagree with the families that for whatever reason it becomes a hot zone,” Furlong said. “When traffic goes into people’s yards, it’s not safe for pedestrians or residents.”
The responsibility falls to drivers traveling Minnesota, who need to be alert and aware of the speed in which they are driving, he emphasized.
While the city has added a fifth deputy assigned strictly to traffic duties, and patrol officers spend spare time handling similar tasks, there are more than 300 miles of streets and 57,000 residents, plus workers who come in and out of the area on weekdays, Furlong said.
Silberman said she and other residents will continue to braces themselves each time “they hear the screeching of brakes.”
“This is a very bad intersection,” she said.
The Sheriff’s Department has a hotline for people to report incidents when drivers aren’t obeying traffic rules: 887-2020, ext. 5000.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.
For your information
The Sheriff’s Department has a hotline for people to report incidents when drivers aren’t obeying traffic rules: call 887-2020 ext. 5000. Leave a message.