Lyon County roads third dangerous in state
More people have died in highway accidents in Lyon County this year — 22 — than any county in Nevada but Clark and Washoe.
The deaths were more than four times as many as a year ago, when five people were killed, according to statistics from the state Office of Traffic and Public Safety.
With a population of 36,783, the statistic of one death for every 1,671 residents makes Lyon County the most deadly county per capita for motorists in the state.
“It’s blood alley out here,” said Sam Neihardt, owner of Break-A-Heart Saloon in Stagecoach. “They should have widened the lanes in 1997. There are serious, serious traffic accidents every month. (The Nevada Department of Transportation) has made a lot of mistakes.”
The most recent crash came Tuesday, when two men and a woman died in a predawn head-on collision not far from Neihardt’s Apache Road business.
Widening of 21 miles of Highway 50 between Dayton and Silver Springs and eight miles of Highway 95 Alternate through Silver Springs is expected to be completed by 2005, said Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder.
However, residents of those growing communities said they don’t think that’s soon enough.
“These roads won’t even hold it until then,” said Doreen Wecker, manager of the East 50 Bar in Mark Twain. “They are putting another 3,000 to 4,000, homes out here. It’s like taking your life into your own hands to cross over and go east from Smith’s (market).”
Lyon County officials have been reviewing plans for 4,800 homes to be built in the next several years.
Neihardt said he was disappointed in 1997 when the Transportation Department only repaved the roadways
He said it’s especially treacherous trying to enter the roadway from a side street. That problem, he said, would be alleviated by the widening project.
“I’ve seen more accidents and near misses that way. There’s near misses every day in front of my business,” he said.
Lyon County Sheriff Sid Smith said one option state transportation officials could consider would be to lower speed limits until the highway is improved.
“I think it would be appropriate to lower it from 65 to 55 mph,” Smith said.
“The traffic out there once it narrows to two-lane is just getting phenomenal, especially during rush hours. There’s close calls on a continual basis. With 1,200 homes already approved, we are going to need some access roads.”
Of the four crashes and seven fatalities on 95A, two children were among the dead as a result of an August rollover.
A few weeks before that deadly crash, three others — two of them teens — died on 95A as they entered the highway from Fir Avenue.
In September, two people died as the result of a head-on collision on Highway 50 near Kelsey Court in Dayton.
In the number of deaths so far this year on state-maintained highways, Lyon County was outranked only by Clark County with 199 fatalities and Washoe County with 35.
Carson City has had three fatal accidents. On a per capital comparison, at one death per 17,974 people, Carson City would rank as the least deadly.
Lyon County’s statistics also showed the biggest increase of the 17 counties in the state from 2001, at 340 percent.