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‘Weird’ NE Heights traffic circle is indeed working as intended

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THE WEIRDEST TRAFFIC CIRCLE IN ABQ? James Terry says he has an entry.

He emails “all the attention recently given to the proposed traffic circles in the Albuquerque metro area prompts me to write about a much smaller traffic circle that was placed in our far Northeast Heights neighborhood a number of years ago.”

James says he’s “always assumed that the small traffic circle at the intersection of Lowell Street NE and Anaheim Avenue NE was designed to slow down the north-south traffic passing through that intersection on Lowell, because Anaheim had stop signs at that corner before the circle, and those stop signs are still there. Unfortunately, the traffic circle does not impede the speed of the north-south traffic one bit, but it does make it more difficult to turn left from Anaheim to Lowell after stopping at the stop signs.”

Especially when you’re towing a trailer. James says then he “must turn left in front of the circle, rather than going all the way around. There just isn’t enough room there! I’ve also noticed that many of my neighbors cut short of the circle every time they pass through that intersection. So, in my opinion, that traffic circle has made the intersection MORE dangerous than it was before.”

That wasn’t the intention.

David Mitchell, director of Bernalillo County’s Operations and Maintenance Department, says this is an intersection circle, “put in as part of the North Albuquerque Acres Transportation Plan adopted in 1998.”

And because it “needs all the same sight distance as an intersection without” a circle, “if the intersection warranted stops before, they don’t necessarily go away after.”

But their color may change.

Mitchell says the county might replace the old black-and-white regulatory signs with yellow advisory ones “so (James) couldn’t be ticketed for towing a trailer across the front of it, which is in fact allowable and was the original intent, say for school buses and fire engines.”

As for drivers not slowing down on Lowell, Mitchell says recall “the speeds before those were put in. They cut the insane, albeit less frequent, outlier 70 mph blasts that were common.”

“Besides the signage,” Mitchell says, “I’ll ask Traffic Engineering to assess the driver behavior and see about adding stop bars on Anaheim to clarify stopping points relative to ‘swing paths’ of the through traffic.”

CAN CARMONY/ALEXANDER GET A FOUR-WAY STOP? Paul Clinton emails “the intersection of Carmony Road and Alexander Boulevard NE is an accident waiting to happen; the traffic on Alexander has the stop sign, but a lot of the drivers are treating it as a four-way stop. This has caused some near misses, to say the least. What’s the chance that the city can install a four-way stop sign at this intersection?”

Not high.

Mark Motsko, who handles information for the city’s Department of Municipal Development, says “the southern leg of this intersection is private property. Traffic Engineering observed the intersection during both rush periods and did not observe traffic stopping on Carmony as indicated. There was minimal conflict, and all vehicles were able to move through the intersection timely. Stopping all traffic on Carmony all day is not recommended.”

CAN I DIME OUT AN ILLEGAL PLATE COVER? Ellis emails “just in the past couple of weeks I have seen several license plates on vehicles that are obscured by dark covers. I was barely able to read the numbers and letters even directly behind these vehicles while they were stopped.”

Ellis goes on to say, “I called a regional police station and reported these to an officer there hoping that they could take some action based upon what information I was willing to give them. I was told that they cannot accept that information and that an officer had to visually see those covers and then could ticket that vehicle/driver for the violation. It seems to me that there should be some way that we, the general public, could help ID some of these violators so they could be ticketed or fined.”

Unfortunately, to date there is not.

Albuquerque Police Department officer and spokeswoman Tasia Martinez echoes what Ellis was told, explaining “officers can enforce citations if they see them. (It’s) usually an illegible plate citation.”

SEND IN YOUR UGLIEST MEDIAN NOMINEE: The city has landscaped almost 75 miles of medians in recent years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more work or maintenance to do. Snap a pic of your nominee for ugliest metro-area median, and email me the reasons why you love to hate it.

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, N.M. 87103; or go to ABQjournal.com/traffic to read previous columns and join in the conversation.

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