Dear Editor,

I am concerned about NDOT’s decision NOT to put a Shared Use Path crossings over HWY 317 at the Clover Street  intersection and at the entrance to Kershaw-Ryan State Park intersection. 

 The travelers, including ranchers, Union Pacific Railroad employees, recreationalists, tourists and residents on HWY 317 have been watching for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians at these intersections for decades. 

NDOT is proposing to construct the Shared Use Path from the intersection of Clover Street and HWY 317, south along the east side of HWY 317, then constructing  a new NDOT crossing over to the west side of HWY 317, then constructing the path south along the west side of HWY 317, then constructing a new NDOT crossing over  to the east side of HWY 317 north of the park entrance, then constructing the path along the east side of HWY 317 to the park entrance.  We can encourage the use of the trail system, but the reality is, travelers can and will use whatever route they choose.  We will have bicycles and pedestrians crossing the Clover Street intersection, crossing HWY 317 at the new NDOT crossing south of the Clover Street intersection, crossing HWY 317 at the new NDOT crossing north of the entrance to Kershaw-Ryan State Park and crossing HWY 317 at the entrance to Kershaw Ryan State Park.  Currently, we have to worry about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists at two intersections on HWY 317.  When NDOT constructs 2 more crossings over HWY 317, we will have to worry about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists at four intersections on HWY 317. This plan doubles the chance of injury. 

We pick up the beer cans from the NDOT easements twice a year.  So we know there are drivers in the canyon drinking and driving.  There are THREE crosses on both sides of HWY 317 between Clover Street and the entrance to Kershaw-Ryan State Park.  It is common knowledge that drivers in the canyon speed on the two long bends between the Clover Street intersection and the entrance to Kershaw-Ryan State Park intersection. 

I asked a lifetime resident of Lincoln County if  he had any memory of anyone getting killed on the Clover Street intersection or the entrance to Kershaw-Ryan State Park intersection.  He said no.  The known deaths on HWY 317 are BETWEEN the Clover Street intersection and the Kershaw-Ryan State Park intersection where NDOT has decided to construct two new NDOT crossings, rather than to construct the Shared Use Path crossings at the existing, historically known intersections.  

 To make the two new crossings over HWY 317 more visible at night NDOT intends to put flashing lights and a large overhead street light at both of the new NDOT crossings.  My suggestion is that the crossings be constructed at the Clover Street intersection and the Kershaw-Ryan State Park intersection.  The flashing lights and street lights will benefit ALL vehicles and pedestrians at these intersections.   

NDOT’s presentation materials describes Users of a Shared Use Path:

  • Typical upright adult bicyclists
  • Recumbent bicyclists
  • Bicyclists pulling trailers
  • Tandem bicyclists
  • Child bicyclists
  • Inline skaters
  • Roller skaters
  • Skateboarders
  • Kick scooter users
  • Pedestrians – Walkers, runners, wheelchairs, people with baby strollers, people walking with dogs, etc.

When pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists get killed on the highway, the driver that hit them invariably says “I didn’t see” him or her.  Can you imagine the increased risk when someone with a baby stroller is crossing HWY 317?  Let’s encourage a Safety Plan that has all pedestrians, roller skaters, skateboarders, kick scooter users, wheelchairs, baby strollers, and bicycles crossing HWY 317 at existing, historically known intersections.  

In summary, NDOT can put the crossings at the Clover Street intersection and at the entrance to Kershaw-Ryan State Park intersection.  No one has ever been killed at these intersections.  

Or NDOT can add two new NDOT crossings in the area where there have been at least three known fatalities. 

NDOT and the Lincoln County Regional Development Authority have worked hard on the SR 317 Shared Use Path.  I thank them for causing this fantastic opportunity for this community.  The NDOT staff is very open to input from the public and has assured me that if the community agrees that the crossings should be at the existing Clover Street and Kershaw-Ryan State Park intersections, they can make the design changes.  I implore the community to support these changes. 

 NDOT is accepting public comment for two weeks.  The deadline for comments is July 31st. 

Submit comment by mail to:  

Curtis Hartzell
Nevada Department of Transportation
1263 S. Stewart St.
Carson City, NV  89712. 

The email address for comments is chartzell@dot.nv.gov

Jan Cole
Caliente, Nev.