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City council approves request to change HOV rules

Posted at 10:24 PM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 17:49:30-04

UPDATE JULY 17: The Las Vegas city council has voted to ask for changes to the rules for HOV lanes.

Councilman Stavros Anthony wants to do away with the 24-7 restrictions on the new lanes.

It will be up to the Nevada Board of Transportation to change the rules.

A Las Vegas city leader says he has been flooded with calls and emails from constituents who want changes made to the new carpool lanes and hours of usage since constant enforcement began last month.

Councilman Stavros Anthony is preparing a resolution for the entire city council to consider which would ask state transportation authorities to ease the hours of usage restrictions from 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, to just a few hours on certain days.

RELATED: Dead serious: NHP says no to hearse in HOV lanes

"If it was up to me, we would just go back to making them through lanes and do away with the HOV lanes," said Anthony.

The heavily-restricted lanes only allow vehicles with two -- or more-- people inside.

"I do use them, and I think they're helpful, especially during rush hour," said Iris Senibaldi, a Las Vegas driver.

RELATED: Nevada Highway Patrol: Dozens of citations given for HOV violations

Others say the lanes are a source of road irritation.

"It's frustrating, because the moment I try to do it, I'd probably get stopped by Metro or NHP, my luck would be that," said Mason DeCosta, who says he sees single driver vehicles in the lanes all the time.

Anthony says the City of Las Vegas has been dismissing carpool lane violations, which run $250 dollars, since the 24/7 restrictions and enforcement went into effect last month.

RELATED: HOV violation enforcement begins on new Project Neon lanes

"Most of the people in the HOV lane are single drivers because they've decided they're going to take the risk of getting somewhere faster and hopefully not get a citation," explained Anthony.

The Nevada Department of Transportation says only the State Transportation Board, chaired by the Governor, or the NDOT director can change the carpool lane usage hours.

A spokesperson released the following statement regarding the carpool lane showdown:

“NDOT is not the first state to implement 24/7 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane operations. California, including San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as Utah, Washington, and Georgia all have 24/7 HOV operations. Las Vegas is a non-traditional 24-hour town where traffic counts along Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95 show that morning commutes begin at 5 a.m. with volumes continuing to grow throughout the day. However, traffic volumes fall to pre-commute/off-peak levels between 10 p.m. and midnight. Meanwhile, the traffic volumes are so low during these hours that the additional lane isn’t needed for mobility. (Traffic volumes during non-peak hours is less than 1,000 cars per lane where capacity is 2,000, and less than 3,000 vehicles total along Interstate 15 between Sahara Avenue and Charleston Boulevard from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.) As such, converting the HOV lane to general traffic usage only increases vehicle weaving and speed variability, thereby reducing motorist safety and increasing the likelihood of crashes. Additionally, keeping the HOV lanes clear during off hours provides greater access for emergency first responders in the event of crash. And it makes it easier to enforce since there will be no question about the time of day in relation to HOV violators. Finally, best practices show that 24/7 operations are most suitable for these scenarios, especially with the direct connect flyover ramp through the Spaghetti Bowl and the HOV interchange at the Neon Gateway.”
Nevada Department of Transportation

13 Investigates asked NHP about enforcement the number of citations were not immediately available. A full report on the first 30 days of carpool lane enforcement is due next week.

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