Summary – Mt. Rose Corridor Traffic Safety Meeting May 16

Meeting Summary – Mt Rose Highway Corridor Safety Issues

May 16, 2018                  6-8 pm                Tamarack Junction Meeting Room

The meeting was facilitated by Mike Lawson – Planning Commissioner representing District 2. Mike has 34 years NDOT experience conducting traffic safety studies and is therefore well-versed, as a Washoe County representative to assist in finding solutions to increased traffic in the corridor and attendant safety concerns.   Thor Dyson, NDOT District Engineer for District 2 and Major Rob Stepien, Northern Command, Nevada Highway Patrol delivered information on the following topics:

SR 431 at Callahan Intersection

  • A signal warrant study and speed study are currently underway from Upper Joy Lake to I-580. Currently 14,000 cars/day use Mt. Rose Hwy. Signal warrant study will be done in 1-3 months and the speed study in 3-5 months.
  • Six total accidents at the intersection in the last 10 years (including the most recent fatal accident) and only 7 in the last 10 years (3 of those were rear-end on Callahan and not correctable with a signal). 1.4 crashes per 1 million miles traveled on Mt. Rose Hwy (average is 2.6). Additional data and information from Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE) are being utilized.
  • Data collected can be used to investigate a potential roundabout if NDOT also conducts an Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE) – this is being recommended by NDOT Safety but requires coordination with NDOT Traffic Operations.
  • NDOT proposes to conduct a Road Safety Audit (RSA). Results from the RSA along with the speed study will be used to evaluate each traffic calming option for each intersection along Mt. Rose Hwy.   Signals and roundabout are not the only solutions to access control, improve the safety or Operation of the intersection (MUTCD) – rear end vs angle/delay.
  • 3500 tickets have been issued in the last 2 years.

Road Safety Audit (RSA)

  • Issues at Edmonton, Joy Lake Road, Thomas Creek, Fawn Lane and Timberline.
  • Road safety audits consider speeds, sight distance, restriction of turning movements, worm islands, offset intersections, pedestrian accommodations, bike paths, etc.
  • An RSA for the Mt. Rose Corridor is proposed to be a topic for a future planning commission meeting.   The last RSA was conducted in 2015, but an additional 5,000 car trips/day have been added since then.
  • NDOT wants to include two citizen representatives in the RSA process.

Ascente Development Issues and County Commissioners Role in Current Problems

  • The Ascente Tentative Map was approved with flawed studies, including their traffic study, which were not independently reviewed for legitimacy.
  • Potential conflict of interest by some county commissioners left the Mt. Rose/Callahan/Fawn intersections with NO planned or financed upgrades to accommodate all CUMULATIVE increases in traffic in the corridor.
  • Planning commission – lack of understanding regarding staff “recommendations”.
  • The current traffic plan for Mt Rose Corridor may be in violation of Forest area plan but it is inadequate in any case.
  • NDOT District 2 traffic engineering sent a memo to County Planners strongly suggesting that Ascente be accessed via a new road intersecting at Thomas Creek. This was ignored by the County Planners and Commissioners.
  • It is imperative that Washoe developers be made to pay for road improvements rather than relying on increasing tax revenue from existing and future residents to pay for much-needed upgrades to roads and infrastructure.

Steve Wolgast – Candidate for County Commissioner, District-2, Bob Lucey’s seat

  • Residents, homeowners, and taxpayers are not represented.
  • Fight bad growth all over the county; issues of traffic, flooding, services.
  • Seek long term planning: traffic, water, flooding, wildfire, emergency services.
  • Promote construction of less expensive housing.
  • The problems presented by the Ascenté development are all duplicated throughout the county.

Washoe Residents for Appropriate Development (WRAP)

  • WRAP is a PAC. It can collect and spend money for political purposes.
  • Community organizer in opposition to Ascente as proposed.
  • Advocate for appropriate planning including ALL Washoe County infrastructure and services, roads schools, water supply, stormwater management, fire safety and sewage treatment in support of EXISTING residents.
  • WRAP is a NON-partisan organization committed to promoting development that is in keeping with Washoe County PLANS and regulations, and does not negatively impact EXISTING residents.
  • WRAP plans to follow up on Mt Rose Corridor safety issues and focus attention on finding solutions to the traffic safety issues on Mt. Rose Hwy.

Questions and Discussion

  • The high grade (5-6%) on Mt. Rose Hwy makes traffic signals and roundabouts tricky particularly in winter.   NDOT says that traffic signals are not necessarily the best option for the Callahan intersection.
  • Speed limits may be lowered for all stretches of the highway.
  • Speed cameras are not allowed by NV legislation.
  • NHP states that tickets and fines are the best deterrent to speeding.
  • A typical stoplight costs ~$700,000.
  • The question of who has the ultimate authority to decide on safety solution rests with Regional Traffic Commission. They have over $166 million in planned and uncompleted projects and only $3 million in available funds.
  • Local traffic consulting engineer discussed various traffic calming options including “pork chop” concrete barriers, flashing lights, signage. Results of the traffic studies will be used to select the best solution based on current best traffic management practice.
  • Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Authority (TMRPA) should promote collection of additional funding for Washoe infrastructure from developers – citizens are being ignored!

What can we do today?  

  • Let the professional NDOT and NHP engineers do their work and finish the studies.
  • Make the best traffic control decisions based on RSA, speed study, corridor analysis and signal warrant studies.
  • Continue to demand accountability from Washoe County Planners, Planning Commissioners and Washoe County Commissioners.


Comments and suggestions can be sent to:

Mike Lawson – District 2 County Planning Commissioner   Michael.Lawson@atkinsglobal. Com

Thor Dyson – NDOT Engineer – District 2

Major Robert Stepien – Northern Command, Nevada Highway Patrol

Mount Rose Highway Hazards

A fatal collision on Saturday, May 5, revealed a broad neighborhood consensus that something needed to be done to address traffic hazards on Mount Rose Highway.  Traffic has increased with new developments along the highway while commute traffic between Incline and Reno has increased.  The commuters are driving at higher speeds leaving residents with increasingly dangerous turns into and out of the neighborhoods.

The outcry over the hazards was evident on the Nextdoor site.  Several neighborhood activists planned an open meeting to discuss the issues and what could be done.  We were lucky to get the participation of Planning Commissioner Mike Lawson, NDOT Engineer Thor Dyson, and NHP Major Rob Stepien.  These representatives gave concise, informative presentations and later fielded questions from neighbors for over an hour.  It appeared to be an encouraging display of democracy in action.

Jump to the web page with additional details and several media reports. LINK

Still Digging!

“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

At the April 26 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, the Board heard the appeal from the Lemmon Valley Recovery Committee against the Lemmon Valley Heights development for the reasons that it would increase flood risk and general risk to public safety.  The Board voted against the appeal 3-1 (Lucey, Berkbigler, and Jung) with Herman supporting the appeal.

Commissioner Lucey argued:

The appellants don’t have standing since their property is more than 500’ from the new development location.  They are not aggrieved and this would set a bad precedent.

The appellants argued:

  • Area homes were flooded last year by Swan Lake. The new homes will contribute to flooding.
  • Last year Lemmon Valley Drive was flooded preventing emergency vehicles access.
  • Mosquitos are bred in the floodwaters and have a range of miles.
  • The schools will likely be overcrowded. The developer is making false assumptions.
  • The county plans to elevate part of Lemmon Valley Drive, but not the part that flooded.
  • The developer plans a new road that is shown going through a retention pond.
  • There are no statistics based on measured runoff to make realistic models.
  • The retention basin that is there is not percolating and is holding its water level.
  • The new retention basins could be mostly filled by a single storm. A second, moderate storm will cause flooding.
  • The new development will cause a large increase in impervious-surface area promoting flooding.
  • The sewer effluent volume is the same volume as the retention ponds, but it is not considered in the flood analysis.

Commissioner Herman spoke in support of the appellants and said that it would be irresponsible to more forward with this development plan.

The county admitted that the water treatment plant can only function with earthen berms to protect it.  They have had to build up the berms and provide storm pumps to combat the effects of erosion and seepage.

Commissioner Lucey proposed the motion to deny the appeal saying “The appellant has not standing for being outside of the 500’ and I don’t find that the appellant is aggrieved in any manner, way, shape, or form.”  This motion carried 3-1.

See the final discussion and voting in this 4-minute video clip.

See the entire meeting with this LINK.  Select agenda item 24.

Mark Lawson

A Sign of the Times?


See our new sign on Mount Rose Highway above the Thomas Creek intersection.  It’s time to publicize the problem and have serious discussions on how to proceed.  There is open talk of a moratorium on development in Lemmon Valley.  Considering that there are already over 100 development projects approved and not built for a total of 60,000 dwellings in Washoe County, it might be time to think of it county wide.

As the new leader for WRAP, I am appalled by some of the recently approved developments (Stonegate and Lemmon Valley Heights come to mind).  But, I am also encouraged by the growing sentiment across the county that we cannot keep going on this way.  The most important way to effect change is through the November elections.  Most of the incumbents support the current form of development.  Vote them out for a change.  Beyond that, there are ways using WRAP to work together effectively and influence development that have not yet been tried.

There is a lot of resistance to the new Lands Bill that would make more land available for development in the Truckee Meadows and make large wilderness areas in the north of the county.  This bill has few supporters.  See an excellent article about it and recent opinion pieces on the In the Media page.

Mark Lawson

New Management!

With my campaign for county commissioner, I’ve had to largely abandon my efforts in the WRAP group.  I am pleased to say that a new leader has stepped forward to take over my roles as “agent” and “treasurer”.  It is Mark Lawson from Washoe Valley who shares our passion to preserve what is so wonderful about the Truckee Meadows and to defend against bad development with its attendant problems.  I think he is the right person to advance the WRAP agenda and to better fulfill it’s potential.  There are initiatives to inform area residents and to monitor county activities and to support neighborhoods and to influence county procedures that I have not been able to pursue.

For my part, I’m seeking support for my campaign.  With no primary opponent, I have more time to reach voters.  I’m advancing that effort every day.  If elected, I will look to the WRAP group for the perspective of residents along with CAB meetings and public input at commission meetings.  Should I lose my bid for the commission seat, I expect to be active in WRAP once again.  I want to thank the WRAP activists for the support they’ve shown me and all that I have learned from them.  Steve Wolgast

Speak Out Against the “Lands Bill”

The “Lands Bill” (Washoe County Economic Development and Conservation Act) will be available for public input locally.  It has two portions: an economic development portion (for developers) and a conservation portion (for environmentalists).

The development portion would move 73,000 acres in Washoe County to Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County to the cities and county at some agreed price.  The cities and counties could then sell that land to the developers.  See the maps following the link below.

The conservation portion would reclassify 750,000 acres in the northern part of the county as wilderness making it inaccessible to motorbikes and restrictive for ranchers.  There are presently 175,000 acres of wilderness in northern Nevada.

There are many detractors to both parts of the bill.  Reno and Washoe have allowed irresponsible development (Lemmon Valley, and Stonegate, most recently) with property presently within the county.  The addition of the new development would support the long term target of a population of 800,000 and rampant urban sprawl.  Ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts (other than hikers) are mostly opposed to the conservation portion.

Implementing the bill will require “an act of Congress”.  My understanding is that Washoe County Commissioners Lucey, Berkbigler, Jung, and Hartung are in favor while Herman is opposed.  Senator Heller and Representative Amodei are supportive, but anxious about this unpopular issue during an election year.  The proponents are eager to get the bill passed before the November elections.  If you’re opposed, express yourself to Heller and Amodei directly, fill out the survey, and come to the public meetings.

Express your opinion at the following venues:

Tuesday, April 24, 5:30-7:30 PM regarding the economic development portion, Reno/Sparks Convention Center

Thursday, April 26, 5:30-7:30 regarding the conservation/wilderness portion, Reno/Sparks Convention Center

For more information or to view the updated proposed maps and bill draft language, please visit:

Can’t make the meetings? Share your opinion through our online survey by clicking here.

For questions, please contact: Jamie Rodriguez, or (775) 328-2010.


He said it … I think he meant it. …


… did you feel the earth move?

It was at the end of tonight’s Planning Commission Meeting …

  • Commissioner Chesney “What are we doing about the situation in Lemmon Valley?”
  • Engineer Trevor Lloyd “The Board of County Commissioners is working on it.”
  • … some murmurs …
  • Commissioner Chesney “Shouldn’t we have some kind of moratorium on building there until that situation is sorted out?”  Commissioners Horan and Lawson concur.
  • Commissioner Chvilicek “Nathan, can we propose a moratorium?”
  • Attorney Nathan Edwards “I think so, but I don’t have the statute in front of me.  It would require Board of County Commissioners approval, so it may not be worth doing from the Planning Commission.  I will report back to the commissioners. “

I strongly inferred that Lawson will press to advance a moratorium on construction in Lemmon Valley even if the Planning Commission can only propose it to the county commissioners.

DISCLAIMER: The above is not accurately verbatim.  It is how I remember it: it happened pretty fast.