Several dozen local residents and officials turned out for Thursday morning’s roundabout grand opening at Pahrump Valley Boulevard and Highway 372.
Local officials provided remarks along with Nevada Department of Transportation officials.
Construction on the $4 million project began back in 2012.
Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly noted that roundabouts reduce the number of automobile collisions at intersections.
“Studies show that compared to traditional signalized intersections, roundabouts reduce crashes by 35 percent, reduce injury crashes by 76 percent and fatalities by 90 percent,” she said. “The reason behind these figures are that motorists drive far slower to negotiate the roundabout, so crashes are less serious, which ultimately saves taxpayers money, related to lifelong injuries sustained in a traffic crash.”
Wehrly said there are only eight points in which a collision could occur in a roundabout intersection whereas with a traditional intersection, there are 32 noted collision points.
Numbers provide details
She also spoke about statistics related to serious traffic accidents in the Silver State
“Of the 328 fatalities that occurred on Nevada roadways last year, seven occurred in Nye County,” she said. “That might seem minimal but we are talking about people’s lives and we can do better.”
Wehrly noted that in addition to the roundabouts, NDOT officials called for new sidewalks, better lighting and pedestrian crossings, which protect Pahrump pedestrians.
On the issue of sheriff and fire department responses as well as medical transports, Wehrly said the agencies can maintain satisfactory response times.
“I recognize there is some concern about emergency vehicles navigating the roundabouts while maintaining our response times,” she said. “Roundabouts actually help our responders as well as the traveling public.”
At present, it takes approximately 12 seconds to get through the Blagg Road, Highway 372 roundabout.
At the same signalized intersection, the average time was 27.6 seconds to get through the intersection.
“The Pahrump Valley Boulevard intersection one will take about 13 seconds as opposed to the 27 seconds it took to get through this intersection,” Wehrly said. “I would like to thank our community for being patient during the construction process. Because of your cooperation, this project was done on time and on budget.”
Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen noted the cost savings associated with both roundabouts.
“These projects save taxpayers money into manners,” Schinhofen said. “Number one, the annual cost to maintain roundabouts is about $5,000 less than a signalized intersection because there are limited or no electrical costs. Number two, they will reduce fuel consumption and save wear and tear on a vehicle because motorists will no longer be idling at an intersection, but they will continue on through.”
Air quality was another issue Schinhofen spoke of, by noting roundabouts are better for air quality, as fewer idling vehicles means reduced emissions and noise pollution.
NDOT officials reported that by 2036, the standard by which engineers design an intersection, approximately 1,526 motorists will travel through the Blagg Road, Highway 372 intersection daily, compared to 2,324 vehicles traveling along the Pahrump Valley Boulevard intersection.
Aside from the construction of the project, Schinhofen spoke about the landscaping adorning the roundabouts.
“The beautification element is also important for Pahrump,” he said. “The roundabouts provide the opportunity to create the community’s first ever gateways, as well as landscape improvements. The roundabouts display desert landscaping with a concrete wall and steel sculptures of wild horses, bighorn sheep and birds. All of those animals are native to Southern Nevada.”
NDOT Traffic Safety Engineer Lori Campbell spoke about how both projects began more than five years ago with officials from Nye County Public Works, the sheriff and fire department, and the town of Pahrump.
“We started to explore the pros and cons of roundabouts and it was determined by all of us that a four million dollar investment was well worth the price to save lives,” she said. “I’d also like to note that we hosted a handful of public meetings here in Pahrump and we’d like to thank those who took the time to attend and provide us their input.”
Campbell noted that the concept of roundabouts for safety improvement was ultimately presented to the Nye County commissioners for their approval.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes