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Big traffic changes in Paseo project

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BIG CHANGES COMING ON PASEO: Drivers east and west of the multimillion-dollar Paseo del Norte/Interstate 25 interchange rebuild are in for some very visible adjustments in the next week or so.

First, west of the freeway.

Phil Gallegos, who handles information for the local office of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, says all lanes between the railroad tracks and the highway will soon be shifted to the north – all that work on the other side of the concrete barriers was crews constructing temporary driving lanes. The shift will include the Jefferson intersection, complete with temporary signals, and will operate just like the current configuration does.

Moving traffic north of the main Paseo alignment will allow crews to begin building the flyover that will take Paseo over Jefferson to the interstate.

As for drivers east of the freeway, get ready for a triple right turn from the northbound exit ramp to eastbound Paseo. Gallegos says that should help alleviate the big afternoon backups.

SAN MATEO INTERCHANGE STAYING THE SAME: John asks what’s going on with the San Mateo interchange as part of the project. Recently there has been lots of dirt work and construction at that site.

Gallegos says while crews have been building a new bridge deck at the interchange, that’s for traffic just north of this site. The San Mateo interchange will not change.

NORTHBOUND SAN ANTONIO INTERCHANGE GOING AWAY: So here are more details on the interchange that will no longer be, i.e. I-25 and San Antonio.

Gallegos says northbound drivers will still be able to exit the interstate between San Mateo and Paseo. This new exit is about 1,800 feet south of the existing San Antonio off-ramp and replaces it. Northbound on ramps on this stretch of the freeway will be limited to those just north of San Mateo and Paseo.

Meanwhile, Gallegos says, southbound I-25 at San Antonio stays the same.

NMDOT PUTS UP THE SIGNS, NOT ENFORCEMENT: Tom Leith emails “I have lived in Albuquerque 27 years and have never seen enforcement of the I-25 safety corridor. (Which runs about 24 miles between Lomas in Albuquerque and Los Lunas.) Most of the time I feel as though I am the only driver going 55 and with my lights on. When does this “continuous enforcement” (referred to in a recent column) take place?”

Gallegos explains that that’s up to law enforcement’s priorities and manpower. “Unfortunately the NMDOT does not dictate to law enforcement as to when they may target these corridors.”

WHEN DOES N.M. TOW DWI CARS? Howard asks via email “just what does New Mexico law say about confiscating cars of convicted drunken drivers? How many convictions are necessary – three or 47 and up?”

According to the Motor Vehicle Division website, under New Mexico law you can lose your license but not your vehicle for DWI.

However, jurisdictions including Albuquerque and Santa Fe have adopted their own ordinances. Both the Duke City and the City Different seize vehicles of drivers on a first offense.

TRAFFIC DEATHS DOWN IN 2013: According to NMDOT and the University of New Mexico, 307 people died on New Mexico roads last year.

That’s down from 368 in 2012 and 351 in 2011.

Last year 207 of the deaths were in vehicles, 52 were pedestrians, 39 were on motorcycles, 5 were on all-terrain vehicles, 3 were on bikes and one was undetermined.

Alcohol was a factor in 131 of the deaths – 42.7 percent.

Just four of the 44 motorcyclists/ATV fatalities were wearing a helmet.

Only 63 of the 207 vehicle fatalities were buckled in.

And while Bernalillo County had the most road deaths, 53, predictable because of the higher population, second and third place were not urban centers.

McKinley County had 26 traffic deaths last year; San Juan County had 25. By comparison, Sandoval County had 16, Doña Ana County had 15, and Santa Fe County had nine.

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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