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What happens with truck traffic during the Paseo/I-25 rebuild?

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WHAT HAPPENS TO SEMIS DURING THE I-25/PASEO REBUILD? That question comes from Jim Chivers, who emails “there’s a (wallboard) plant on El Pueblo NW at the Jefferson Street intersection, and I am curious to know what, if any, consideration has been factored into the proposed construction at El Pueblo for that truck traffic. As I travel El Pueblo to Jefferson and live in the area, I’m just wondering where that truck traffic is going to be going?

“It’s interstate truck traffic that needs to access I-25, and the on-ramp at Second Street is not safe or at all easy for trucks to gain access to El Pueblo,” Chivers writes.

Patti Watson is coordinating public relations/communications for the Paseo/I-25 project and says the design team has been meeting with area businesses, including the wallboard factory, to discuss concerns.

In this case, “Truck traffic using El Pueblo Road will maintain the current traffic pattern during construction by being able to travel west on El Pueblo, and access Paseo del Norte via Second Street. Trucks can also travel east on El Pueblo, then head south on Jefferson to either San Antonio or Osuna.

“Truck traffic that originates at local businesses on El Pueblo is not considered interstate traffic, therefore these trucks can use local streets just as other local traffic does. Since the limits of the (rebuild) do not extend as far west as Second Street, the eastbound Paseo del Norte on-ramp at Second Street is not being reconstructed as part of the project.”

In addition, Watson says the project design team and the design-build contractor selected to build the project — anticipated this summer — will work closely with local businesses and commuters to provide as much access to Paseo del Norte and I-25 as possible during peak travel times in the morning and afternoon, and will provide real-time information about available alternative routes throughout construction of the project.

ANOTHER ROUNDABOUT ON THE DRAWING BOARD: While the debate continues over the Rio Grande/Candelaria roundabout, Bernalillo County has a traffic-calming project of its own in the works, at Five-Points and Bridge, as part of the Bridge corridor re-development.

David Mitchell, director of Bernalillo County’s Operations and Maintenance Department, says there should be a healthy public discussion about that.

He says this would be “the first serious multi-lane, four-way intersection roundabout, and while people are used to making left turns across a couple lanes and a suicide lane in their daily driving, nobody is used to making that merge for a right turn into what will be a pretty dense flowing multi-laner. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It analyzed out to carry more flow.”

That would be a good thing, Mitchell says, because residents also complain bitterly about the (current) signal never having enough time on Sunset.”

Other spots residents have put on the roundabout wish list include “at Old 66 and (N.M.) 217, and one fellow wants one at Old Coors and Sage (where the county has intersection improvements planned). There is also a developer-provided set of roundabouts planned for the new Las Estancias business park and shopping area in the South Valley off Coors just south of Rio Bravo, Mitchell said, but that is more of a 25-mph access into the development that dead ends, and there is no road there now.

CAN IT COME WITH INSTRUCTIONS? One thing that might help more drivers get up to speed on roundabouts is an update of the state Driver’s License Manual with a little more guidance as to the rules of use. The only mention of how to drive through a roundabout is this, from page 12:

“In some areas, you may see a ‘traffic circle’ also called a ‘rotary traffic island.’ When you drive around a ‘traffic circle’ you must drive on the right side of the island.”

Those sketchy instructions haven’t done much to help traffic smoothly enter, circle through or stay off the curbs and islands in the growing number of New Mexico roundabouts.

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays and West Siders and Rio Ranchoans on Saturdays. Reach her at 823-3858; road@abqjournal.com; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103; or go to ABQjournal.com/traffic to read previous columns and join in the conversation.

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