Bypass intersection design changes advocated by Muscle Powered |

Bypass intersection design changes advocated by Muscle Powered

John Barrette

Muscle Powered members Wednesday advocated separation of walkers and bicyclists from vehicles at the intersection of the freeway bypass and South Carson Street when it is constructed by 2017.

They showed up close to 50 strong at a Carson City Regional Transportation Commission meeting at which the Nevada Department of Transportation unveiled its latest but incomplete plan for an at-grade intersection with traffic signals when the bypass is completed from Fairview Drive to link up with Highway 50 where South Carson Street/U.S. 395 bisects that location.

“Everything will be open the spring of 2017,” said Jeff Lerud of NDOT when questioned by Commission Chairman John McKenna about timing on the freeway bypass and intersection completion. Lerud, senior project manager and the new manager for the Carson City bypass work, was on hand mainly to show the intersection plans that he said are 60 percent complete.

He said the current intersection design, which he displayed on a screen, is at-grade rather than an interchange and would be one with signals and aimed at safety for north-south non-vehicular traffic on South Carson’s west side “by keeping pedestrians out of those heavy-conflict movements.”

But several Muscle Powered members, both bicyclists and walkers, pushed for ways to avoid crossings at the light rather than some way to avoid any possibility of conflict at the intersection.

“Stop saying it costs too much,” said Kelly Clark, a board member for the Muscle Powered organization also known as Citizens for a Walkable and Bikeable Carson City. She favored overpass methods, though after the meeting said and underground pathway would works as well.

The intersection plan envisions a north-south path on South Carson’s west side but would require pedestrians and bicyclists to go through the light at grade, though Lerud repeatedly said NDOT would continue taking suggestions as it works toward a final plan.

Commissioner Jim Mallery, who retired from NDOT, put a tunnel pathway under the roadway on the table directly. He pushed for Lerud to cost it out before finishing the planning process.

“I’d like to see how much more that would add to the cost,” said the RTC member.

Commissioner Brad Bonkowski urged anyone in the crowd concerned to keep meeting with NDOT officials to help during completion of the design process.

McKenna and Bonkowski also are city supervisors and one of them must serve as RTC chairman. McKenna was retained for another year as chairman and Jim Smolenski was chosen as vice chairman.

The Carson Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which also includes members from Douglas and Lyon counties, met just prior to the RTC and selected Mallery as chairman of CAMPO, Lyon County Commissioner Ray Fierro as vice chairman.

The CAMPO members heard a report from NDOT’s Jason Van Havel, liaison to the organization, on safety-oriented construction east of Carson City. It is an $8 million project in the Mound House area and where Nevada 341 meets U.S. Highway 50, which Van Havel said should be starting during the 2014 construction season.