Nevada Department of Transportation looking for cash to fund pedestrian safety improvements
Director Rudy Malfabon told the Nevada Department of Transportation Board on Monday the state may be able to put as much as $10 million more into pedestrian safety efforts this year.
Malfabon said there has been growing concern among not only his staff but the public over fatalities, including in Carson City.
Michael Shields died Nov. 11 after he was hit by a motorcycle while crossing Stewart Street at Telegraph Street.
The motorcyclist was taken to Renown Hospital in critical condition.
Then, in the first week of December, Augustine Medina-Naranjo was critically injured while crossing North Carson Street at Adams.
Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said there have been two other pedestrians killed in the past 18 months trying to cross Highway 50 East.
Statewide, there were 50 pedestrian fatals in Clark County and 12 in Washoe County during 2014.
There has been criticism that some safety projects have been recommended and authorized but not completed — some as simple as caution signs. Malfabon said there are limited resources available but that more can be done if his office and the board “put emphasis on those projects.”
He said the cash will fund a variety of improvements designed to make roadways safer for those on foot.
The extra money for pedestrian safety would come from state funds and Malfabon said it would be heavily focus on projects in Clark and Washoe counties where the vast majority of pedestrian injuries and fatalities have occurred.
The two recent incidents prompted Carson City Sheriff’s Office to operate an educational exercise two days before Christmas on Carson Street. A total of 29 drivers were stopped and, for the most part, issued warnings for not yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalks.
Sgt. Scott McDaniel issued a statement Monday pointing out that pedestrians bear some responsibility as well.
“It is most important that you as the individual walking the city at night be seen,” he said. “Visibility is limited during darkened hours and, despite most thinking, you do not always have the right of way when crossing the roadway.”
He suggested that pedestrians, especially at night, wear bright clothing or orange reflective vests to make sure drivers can see them. He said they can also carry a flashlight or a clip-on light.
Using federal grant money, McDaniel said teams also will be out looking for impaired drivers this month. In addition, he said the Carson City Sheriff’s Office will conduct saturation patrols in the city for the rest of January. He said they will be looking for drivers who are speeding, using cell phones or tailgating.