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Portion of Paseo del Norte rebuild for bicyclists is not yet set in stone

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PASEO REBUILD PASSING BY BIKE SAFETY? That’s a concern of Ian Maddieson, chairman of the Greater Albuquerque Recreational Trails Committee. He says the group is concerned that an early design “presented to the public before the vote on the ($50 million) bond issue to support the project included a separate pedestrian/bicycle bridge across Interstate 25 south of Paseo del Norte near the Ashley Furniture store,” yet newer versions have dropped the bridge.

The early layout “would have carried the existing paved multi-use trail along the Pino arroyo on the east (side) of I-25 to the Journal Center area on the west and ultimately provided a link to the western sections of the multi-use trail along the south side of Paseo del Norte all the way to the bosque,” Ian explains. “It would also have provided a safe way to cross the freeway and avoid the hazards of the busy I-25/Paseo interchange, which in its present configuration is almost impossible to navigate as a pedestrian or cyclist.”

Ian’s email goes on to say that while the new version has “a bridge over the I-25 lanes themselves in this plan, just immediately to the south of Paseo del Norte … pedestrians and cyclists would have to cross multiple lanes on on- and -off ramps … east and west of the freeway, and then negotiate further lane crossing at Jefferson where Paseo traffic is flowing to and from Jefferson.

“This is a very poor substitute for the original plan we were ‘sold’,” Ian says, and while the group understands fiscal limitations, it also knows compromise in the name of safety should be possible.

Ian says GARTC suggests at least adding “markings that would help to separate pedestrian and bicycle traffic, such as distinctive surface textures or different colors, to minimize conflict between these types of use.”

The good news is that the bike portion of the Paseo rebuild has not been set in concrete yet.

Phil Gallegos, who handles information for the Metro-area office of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, explains that “the Paseo del Norte/I-25 Interchange Reconstruction Project is a design-build project, and one of the last design aspects of the project to be finalized is the bicycle/pedestrian facilities. The design team is taking into account suggestions and input from the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee, (Ian’s group) GARTC and individuals who have communicated with us about this aspect of the project. The team is looking at suggestions in terms of their feasibility, additional cost and impact on the construction schedule.

“Once the proposed design for the bicycle/pedestrian facilities is finalized – expected in December – we will be back in touch with the interested parties.”

DOES SANDIA HIGH HAVE A SPECIAL SPEED LIMIT? Margaret K. says via email “I drive past Sandia High nearly every day and notice that the posted speed limit for school hours is 15 mph. But the Journal has written that high school speed limits are 25 mph, and that holds for other high schools in the city that I am familiar with. Why is Sandia different?”

It’s not when it comes to speed limits.

Albuquerque Traffic Engineer John Kolessar says “the speed limit posted was posted in error and is being changed. High school crossing zones are posted 25 mph, middle school crossing zones are posted 20 mph, and elementary school zones are posted 15 mph. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”

WHAT’S WITH THE SAN MATEO CLOSURE? Annsamdeb emails that “one lane on southbound San Mateo, between Candelaria and Menaul, has been closed for two or three weeks. There doesn’t seem to be any work happening there. What’s up?”

Utility work is what’s up. Unfortunately the thermometer has been down.

David Morris, public affairs manager for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, says “this situation is the aftermath of a Water Authority valve repair job. We started work on Dec. 1, but another entity – perhaps a city streets contractor – had barricaded the road prior to that because the street was subsiding over the faulty valve. Now the work on the valve is finished, but the lane closure persists because it hasn’t been warm enough to repave the excavation. Workers are willing, but the asphalt needs 40 degrees. So it will probably be a few more days.”

Morris had an update late last week that the “work is completed on San Mateo with a temporary cold-weather asphalt mix. The contractor will repave using regular asphalt when the weather allows.”

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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