Median may be installed on Highway 50 in Mound House | NevadaAppeal.com
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Median may be installed on Highway 50 in Mound House

by F.T. Norton
ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com

Improvements to the four-mile stretch of Highway 50 East from Deer Run Road to the Virginia City turnoff – the area of a rash of recent accidents – have been in the works for several years, said Nevada Department of Transportation Spokesman Scott Magruder.

A public meeting to discuss those improvements is set for Thursday, Oct. 21 in Dayton.

According to the NDOT proposal, work would begin in 2013 in which a raised “rolled curb” median, 5 inches tall and from 4 to 16 feet wide, would be installed the length of the corridor. The median will include designated left turn lanes, which also will necessitate frontage roads for access to area businesses, said Magruder.

“It wouldn’t totally eliminate head-ons but it would definitely help prevent the head-on,” said Magruder.

In the past three months, three people were killed and four injured in head-on collisions in Mound House. In one, alcohol is believed to be a factor, and another may have been caused by the driver falling asleep.

Magruder also noted the median would eliminate a number of left turns, which can result in T-bone collisions.

In addition to the median, acceleration and deceleration lanes will be added.

“Traffic entering the highway from a side street only need to judge oncoming traffic in the direction they are turning from,” the proposal states. “The decel lane allows traffic to exit from the travel lane and decelerate in a protected lane without impeding mainline traffic flow.”

Magruder said the suggestions came about from a 2007 traffic study. The last major improvement to the highway in Mound House was in 1990 when the road was widened to four lanes.

From 2005 to 2009, according to Magruder, 192 collisions occurred on U.S. 50 in Mound House. Two of the accidents resulted in three deaths, and 75 involved injury.

Statistics indicate traffic levels through Mound House in 2000 were 18,000 daily. A 2009 study indicates 22,000 cars now pass through the area. NDOT projections are that in 2015 the volume will be 34,000 and by 2030, 50,000 commuters will make their way through Mound House.

Magruder said there has been some discussion of installing a traffic signal at the intersection of State Route 341, the turnoff to Virginia City, but that’s not in the current plans.

“If the proposal eliminates a lot of the unsafe left turns, then a light isn’t necessary,” said Magruder.

The improvement project is expected to take 18 months.

Note: Date of meeting was changed to Oct. 21. Median width was changed from inches to feet.