JIM BAGWELL: Questions persist in two-lane Carson Street plan
For the Nevada Appeal
I have resisted writing about the possibility of Highway 395 downtown becoming a two-lane road while I made my own observations. I have been driving at various times in the downtown area to get a feeling about the traffic now that most of it should be using the new freeway.
My first observation is there still is a lot of traffic in the downtown corridor. While there is less traffic, especially trucks, since the freeway opened I am amazed at the amount of vehicles during normal commute times. I would have guessed that at least half the traffic was traveling to Reno or back to Minden and would move to the freeway. I was either wrong or locals changed their habits immediately after the freeway opened.
My second observation is that the traffic lights are an impediment to smooth flow of vehicles. I understand that it might be unreasonable to have pedestrians or cross traffic wait too long to get a green light but it seems that improvements could be made. I recently was in Scottsdale, Ariz., and drove on a city street only stopping for one red light. It was the first one I came to and all the rest for about
20 miles were green. My only obligation: Obey the speed limit and drive safely. It made for a very pleasant drive at 5 p.m. in relatively heavy
My third observation is really an attempt at visualization. I have tried to visualize how the present traffic would be merged to one lane each way. With my background of working traffic for the NHP, I thought it would be easy to form an educated opinion. Well, it isn’t. One concern would have to be the amount of time a driver uses to park whether in an angle space or especially when parallel parking.
Can the present traffic be condensed to one lane and improve traffic flow? The only advantage I see is more parking but my gut feeling is the parking will become a huge impediment to improving traffic flow.
I am not a traffic engineer but I surmise that it is very likely that we will spend a few million dollars to make the change and in a year or two, we will spend a few more million to put it back the way it is now.
I suggest that if we have money to spend on the downtown area that we start coordinating all the signals so a vehicle can move through the city without stopping. I am sure there are computers that can handle the task. Think about the fuel savings, brake linings and other moving parts that would last longer if not used so often to stop and start.
• Jim Bagwell of Carson City is a Vietnam veteran and graduate of the FBI National Academy who worked 31 years in law enforcement. He and his wife Lori own Charley’s Grilled Subs.