South Carson Street gets meandering sidewalks

Simply to avoid being hit, Angelo Bontempo tries to avoid much of South Carson Street when he's about the town on his electric scooter.

But with sidewalks being installed on both sides of South Carson Street, Bontempo, 63, said he would have a much easier time avoiding the people who "seem like they're always trying to hit me."

Although Bontempo, who has used a scooter for mobility for 10 years because of heart problems, takes back roads as much as possible, sometimes he'd like to travel from his South Carson home to Office Depot. Often, in any direction he chooses, he's stymied by lack of handicap access to sidewalks, and he doesn't like to travel on the shoulder of the "freeway," as he calls South Carson Street.

"I could always use a sidewalk," he said.

Paul Sinnott, principal road design engineer for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said sidewalks weren't originally planned with the $2.1 million South Carson Street maintenance project. With requests from people like Bontempo, however, state officials opted to spring for sidewalks along the 1-1/2-mile route. And not just plain, straight sidewalks. Meandering sidewalks that wind along a path set away from the roadway.

For $57,000, the state decided to add 4,390 square yards of concrete to complete a hodgepodge of existing sidewalks and sections of South Carson Street, essentially from Stewart Street south to Snyder Avenue, without sidewalks. The meandering sidewalks don't cost any more than a straight sidewalk, Sinnott said, and they have the added benefit of pulling pedestrian traffic from what will be a busy, six-lane road.

"Since we are moving traffic over next to the curb, we tried to vary them away from the road as much as possible to provide a buffer," Sinnott said.

Sinnott said the sidewalk improvements, which also include upgrades to the existing sidewalks to make them accessible to the disabled, will provide a safe route for the disabled and will better connect walkers from downtown to South Carson.

South Carson Street will be transformed to six-lanes with the addition of a third southbound lane from Fairview Drive to Highway 50 East and an extra northbound lane from the Highway 50 interchange to Stewart Street. The road's concrete barriers are being modified to accommodate the expansion, which will encompass the existing roadway and shoulder. Bicyclists will no longer have a dedicated shoulder on which to ride, but cyclists can use the sidewalks as well as an alternate route along Roop Street and Silver Sage Drive.

"The six lanes are going to be a bit of an eye-opener," Sinnott said. ""They're narrow, but they're the lanes we use in Las Vegas all the time. People will have to focus more but it will get the traffic through a lot faster."

South Carson Street is used by roughly 45,000 cars daily with congestion at several intersections reaching gridlock especially in rush hours.


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