KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
NDOT has proposed closing the intersection of Avenue F extension at Aultman as part of a project to get the street up to current standards. The city council is looking into the proposal.

The Ely Times

Avenue F could soon be closed at the intersection of 15th street if the City of Ely agrees with Nevada Department of Transportation’s proposal to this particular intersection.

The Ely City Council had an agenda item at its recent meeting that was to concur with NDOT’s intent to close the Avenue F extension, located at East 15th Street, across from Sagebrush Texaco as part of the future NDOT project to bring the intersection at Aultman/E. 15th street up to current standards.

In a recent letter from Steve Baer, assistant district engineer for the Ely NDOT District Office, to BJ Almberg, the city engineer, Baer addressed the concerns that NDOT had with this  particular intersection.

Baer stated in the letter, “With the ongoing problem this intersection represents, regarding safety and functionality we would request concurrence from the city to close this diagonal leg of the intersection and have this closure work incorporated into the Ely reconstruction project.”

Baer also indicated in the letter that the NDOT project was currently at 60 percent design, so if the city agreed to the proposal then NDOT would be willing to add this work into the project to enhance the safety characteristics at this intersection.

Several business owners and residents who live in that area spoke during public comment. Many expressed they were opposed to this change, and many noted they had never received notification of this proposed change.

Jennifer Lee, deputy clerk, read several letters into record. One was from John O’Flaherty who expressed his concern on the proposed change, and wanted his opposition to this to be on record.

Sagebrush Texaco, a local gas station and convenient store also sent a letter that Lee read into the record. “Sagebrush Texaco would be impacted by the closure of the Avenue F extension. Sagebrush did not receive notice of this proposed road closure.  Property owners should have been notified.”

Nathan Robertson, owner of Soak N. Suds Laundromat on 1625 Avenue F, spoke before the council during public comment. Robertson said, “I’m against this, this would drastically impact the access to  businesses down there, especially, during summer months, I think this impacts the other property owners, it is a bad intersection, it is laid out bad, but there’s got to be another solution. That way it doesn’t impact businesses.”

Local resident Allen Wise voiced his concerns as well. “I’m a county resident, I’ve driven over that intersection since 1972, there’s been a few wrecks there but usually it’s because people not paying attention  coming from the hospital,” he said. “The city has a good sign of yield but it’s too far back. I like everyone else is opposed to it.  If you look at that intersection you have an intersection at Sportsworld that is the same way, although one street is one way,  you also have another street on the other side, which is the same type of intersection that NDOT wants to close. So if you’re going to close one, close them all.”

It appeared as though there was some confusion on why businesses and locals were not informed of the proposed change ahead of time. City Attorney Chuck Odgers told Mayor Melody VanCamp and the council that this was the way to let the public know, was by first putting it on the agenda.

Baer was present at the meeting to address any questions the council had.  “Through the course of our project we have identified and determined because of the speed and geometrics of that location, there is a serious number of accidents, the layout of the intersection is very confusing for motorists. The yield sign and then the stop sign, is problematic. It was proposed so close that leg of Avenue F. If the city wants to keep it open it’s their prerogative,” Baer said.

Odgers noted he has seen two accidents in the municipal court in the last several months for this particular intersection. Although Baer did not have any statistical data when Councilman Kurt Carson asked for a number of accidents, he did mention that he has submitted for the traffic information.

“I know within the last three months there has been two accidents, a lot of people try to make that movement, at 35 miles an hour,” Baer said. “I know one of the last accidents, pushed the vehicle all the way across the highway, into the fence.”

Councilman Sam Hanson expressed his concern for the safety aspect, but also the convenience aspect. “I’d like to see some suggestions of things we could do to keep it open but make it safer,” Hanson said.

Councilman Tony DeFelice had concerns about making the decision of the proposal from NDOT.

“The problem I have is along with the other businesses it’s going to potentially put businesses out of business,” DeFelice said. “I wanted to know our options before we make this decision.”

Baer explained to the council they could explore some of the alternatives mentioned but stressed again that NDOT is at the end of their plan and development.

“If we delay it much further and it’s scheduled for November, we would need to check with designers in Carson to see if there is alternatives,” he said.

It was noted by Odgers and VanCamp that this item will be on a future agenda and all businesses in that area will be notified.

Major sections of the intersection are within the City of Ely’s right-of-way, and the city would take the lead on any necessary notifications if future changes will be made at the intersection.