LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) said that from Pahrump to Las Vegas and Red Rock Canyon, these trips need a safety upgrade.
This month, the NDOT released its SR-160 and SR-159 corridor plan, highlighting the changes it intends to implement in the two highways in the coming years following an increase in fatal vehicle collisions on them. As part of this, he also examined traffic data from 2015 to 2019.
This data indicates the areas within the 80 Mile project most prone to these accidents. Over a five-year period, the project recorded 32 fatal accidents and 35 deaths.
These areas saw more traffic and speed controls, roundabouts, raised medians, widened streets, and traffic buffered bike lanes.
Heather Fisher is President of Save Red Rock, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and protect Red Rock Canyon and recreate it. She and other contributors have been among hundreds who have submitted public comments since the project launched in January 2022.
“We just tried really hard to make sure that visitors who come to Red Rock can feel safe and secure,” Fisher said during a virtual interview Wednesday night.
Both the NDOT and Fisher have stated that the roads have become more dangerous and congested in recent decades as the population of Southern Nevada has skyrocketed. The construction and development that followed along these highways attracted more drivers, pedestrians and bikers to the areas where these fatal collisions were reported.
This is one of the reasons some people oppose certain aspects of the project. For SR-159, the NDOT reported that hundreds of bikers ride next to traffic every week, in addition to the thousands of visitors who go hiking.
For John Hegis, a frequent climber in Red Rock Canyon, the revitalization of the area as a recreational destination has given way to an increase in traffic hazards. The increase in visitors and traffic leads to higher traffic control needs, forcing cars to stop, which he believes could backfire on safety.
He also finds it unnecessary to spend money on improving bike paths when a paved Red Rock Legacy Trail bike path is already planned along the highway.
“Our access is being restricted,” Hejes told 8 News Now station Wednesday night. “The people who run these companies are also really pushing for more barriers with more toll booths, fees and bookings.”
“I don’t think we can say, ‘Everyone will stop coming to Red Rock.’ I just don’t think it will happen. So if we can just make it more organized, I think that will help with security,” Fisher said.
However, the project has not yet received the green light. The corridor plan says the State Department still needs to identify sources of funding, and the price could be in excess of $350 million.
Public comments on the proposed changes are accepted until February 24 at [email protected] or on the project website.