NDOT meeting on Hwy 50 tonight

NDOT is holding an scoping (informational) meeting about the section of Highway 50 between Deer Run Road and Hwy 341 to Virginia City, the “Mound House” section. This section has seen an epidemic of  fatalities and serious injury crashes this year, so NDOT is accelerating planning to improve the highway. (Nevada Appeal article)

This project could also make things safer for bicyclists, if it is designed correctly, but it could also make things worse for bicyclists, if it is not. There are several bicyclists who commute regularly from Dayton to Carson City, and the roadway sees quite a lot of recreational use on weekends. Tim Rowe of Alta Alpina Cycling Club, and Muscle Powered board member, has asked that people attend the meeting tonight to ask questions and provide information about bicycle facilities on this section of highway.

The highway itself should either have wide shoulders (six feet or more) or marked bike lanes, and any cross streets or grade separations should have marked bike lanes as well as sidewalks. A separate multi-use path might be appropriate in some areas, however, it must not be inconvenient or unsafe for commuting bicyclists to access the path. Lowering the speed limit on the highway should definitely be considered, since speed is the biggest contributor to fatality and injury in accidents. A widened highway that encourages higher speed would be a mistake for all users. The Nevada Appeal article mentions acceleration and deceleration lanes. These can be a significant hazard to bicyclists if they are not designed and stripped properly, and again, they allow higher speeds.

The meeting is Thursday, October 21, 2010, 4:00 to 7:00 PM, at the Lyon County Utilities Building, 34 Lakes Blvd #103, Dayton NV. A notice of the meeting with sketch map is available at http://budget.state.nv.us/clearinghouse/Notice/2011/E2011-058.pdf.

A Highway 50 Corridor Study from 2007 is available http://www.nevadadot.com/planning/pdfs/US_50_2007.pdf. The study mentions bicycles in a number of places but doesn’t make clear that bicycle facilities are needed along this entire stretch, nor does it define what sorts of facilities might be provided. The Carson City Unified Pathways Master Plan from 2006 indicates an existing on-street bike lane out to the county line (though it is insufficiently marked for this), and a proposed paved shared path (bicycles and pedestrians, not horses) to the county line, and then indicates a shared street (shoulder) in Lyon County. The CAMPO Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) from 2009 shows the Lyon County portion to Hwy 341 as a bicycle lane proposed (page 5-19).

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One thought on “NDOT meeting on Hwy 50 tonight

  1. Tim Rowe, Terry McAfee, and Dan Allison attended the meeting last night in Dayton. NDOT presented their engineering plan to address the continuing traffic difficulties in Mound House as well as the recent rash of crashes. Many people in the audience asked that something be done about the safety issue right now, but also asked that they and their businesses not be inconvenienced. Traffic signals were the most popular solution offered and supported, though I have doubts that they are the right solution. The NDOT plan is a longer range plan which would take five years or more to complete, and involves medians, side roads, and an overpass. The problem is largely one of behavior and enforcement, and it seems strange to offer an engineering solution instead. Nevada Highway Patrol was not at the meeting.

    We don’t yet know what effect this project would have on bicyclists, but we are concerned that the added median and acceleration and decelleration lanes would remove the bicycling shoulder that is currently present. There is a bike lane from Carson City to the county line, near the V&T bridge, and the shoulder but not lane continue in Lyon County. Tim Rowe will schedule with project engineer Steve Bird a meeting to discuss bicycle impacts and solutions, and we will keep you informed as this develops.

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