ELKO – A second, larger roundabout in Spring Creek is about three years away, and state officials say it could improve safety for drivers entering and exiting roadways for schools along Lamoille Highway.
The project has an anticipated cost of $7.9 to $9.5 million, but has not yet been finalized, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Located at Lamoille Highway and Boyd-Kennedy Road, the two-lane traffic roundabout is “preliminary scheduled” for 2025. “The project will enhance traffic safety for as many as 14,000 drivers who travel near the intersection daily,” the state agency said.
The approximate 100-foot diameter roundabout will be larger than the one at the intersection of Lamoille Highway and Licht parkways that was installed 12 years ago.
Changes will also be made at Trescartes Avenue and the entrance to Spring Creek High School to accommodate high traffic with “channelized protected turns with acceleration and deceleration lanes,” NDOT said.
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The agency stated the roundabout would be constructed with three exits and the ability to accommodate a fourth if a residential subdivision goes in across from the school in the future.
Additionally, pedestrian crosswalks and connections to the multi-use path along the north side of the road will be installed for additional access to the nearby schools, “providing pedestrian crossing at all legs of the roundabout.”
The agency said new LED lighting and advanced roadway signage would also be installed for additional visibility.
Sage Elementary, Spring Creek Middle School and Spring Creek High School are all accessible by Boyd-Kennedy Road.
NDOT said the roundabout will be similar to one at U.S. Highway 50 and USA Parkway in Lyon County.
The second Spring Creek roundabout will be different from the first, which has only one travel lane around the center island. NDOT said multi-lane roundabouts “can optimize mobility and functionality of an intersection [and] reduce serious crashes,” but motorists should keep four driving tips in mind. These include: Pick your lane while approaching the roundabout; yield to all lanes of traffic from your left when entering; obey signs and lane markings within the roundabout; and stop for bicycles and pedestrians crossing near the roundabout.
Additionally, roundabouts are considered safer than traffic signal intersections, NDOT added, pointing to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that concluded “converting 23 specific intersections from traffic signals to roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 80 percent.”
“Lower speeds, increased traffic capacity and decreased delays, congestion, fuel consumption and air pollution are other roundabout benefits found in many national roundabout studies,” NDOT said.
“Because traffic enters and exits through right turns only, the occurrence of severe right-angle crashes in roundabouts is substantially less than in many four-way intersections,” the department continued. “Roundabouts also have the ability to reduce potentially deadly rear-end crashes which can occur at certain traffic lights.”
NDOT said roundabouts were also considered safer for buses, freight and haul trucks that can slowly travel over the raised concrete median to travel through the roundabout.
The second roundabout was proposed to the Elko County Board of Commissioners in January 2020, initiated by a request from then-developer Ken Krater for Ruby Vista Ranches. Commissioners were asked to direct staff to deliver information about the proposed project.
At the time, Krater estimated it could cost $1.3 million after a review by NDOT.
NDOT clarified this week that the roundabout is “not currently a joint project with Vista Ranch, LLC. NDOT coordinates closely with local government partners and developers to ensure traffic safety and mobility of the state highway network.”
Further, the state agency explained that any decision to approve, deny, or place requirements upon development “rests with the applicable local county or city.”
“While we at NDOT do NOT have authority over private developments, we closely review impacts of proposed developments on state road right-of-way,” NDOT stated. “As part of the local government permit process, the developer submits a traffic study specific to impacts to state highways. We would evaluate and collaborate with the local agency and developer to ensure that state road impacts are mitigated in the most effective and safe way possible.”
On Sept. 7, County Commissioners approved a request from NDOT to maintain a solar-powered pedestrian signal at Ann Way and Boyd-Kennedy Road that is planned for installation when the roundabout is constructed.
Elko County Roads Supervisor Dennis Price explained the request was similar to another agreement for Elko County to maintain the light at the intersection of Lamoille and Jiggs highways and one other traffic light in Jackpot.
County Commissioner Delmo Andreozzi reiterated the safety concerns for motorists entering and exiting schools in that area that led to the second roundabout project.
“There’s a lot of near-misses out there,” Andreozzi said. “You’ve got these young drivers coming out on the highway.”
Spring Creek’s first roundabout was constructed in 2010. The $1.9 million contract for the project was awarded to Eagle Peak Rock & Paving.