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CNM/UNM/Sunport Traffic Topic of Meeting Tonight

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — UNM/CNM/SUNPORT TRANSIT STUDY: Metro area residents have a chance to sound off on the best way to reduce congestion in this busy area. Hosted by the Mid-Region Council of Governments from 6 to 8 tonight at the Heights Community Center Dance Hall at 823 Buena Vista Drive SE, the public meeting is supposed to explore how best to deal with the 74,000 employees and students who travel through and/or park in the corridor each day.

City Councilor Isaac Benton points out in a news release that “the project team consists of representatives from the city of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, UNM, CNM and the Sunport. It’s very important that together with the public we start now to look at how to serve some of this growth with transit as opposed to additional vehicles.”

According to the MRCOG news release, “the project team is currently analyzing existing transit services in the area, and looking into potential strategies to reaching the project’s goals, such as increasing and modifying existing transit service, making roadway improvements, and marketing alternative modes, pursuing parking pricing and related policies, and developing park-and-ride facilities. Funding for this project amounts to $850,000 dollars from two federal grants and local matching funds. It is estimated that the project will take 18 months to complete.”

CD3 THE DEADLIEST FOR PEDESTRIANS IN N.M.: That’s according to a new study by Transportation for American, which broke out pedestrian fatalities by congressional district.

The accompanying news release says “more than 50,000 pedestrians (were) killed between 2001 and 2010” and argues for Congress to preserve funding for pedestrian roadway improvements in the transportation bill, the current extension of which expires June 30.

In New Mexico, 212 pedestrians were killed in Congressional District 3, primarily the northern swath of the state, represented by Democrat Rep. Ben Ray Luján. CD1 came in second, with 164 pedestrians killed in the Albuquerque metro area, which is represented by Democrat Rep. Martin Heinrich. And 112 pedestrians were killed in the southern part of the state, represented by Republican Rep. Steve Pearce.

MORE ON NMDOT AND DEAD ANIMALS: Last week the state Department of Transportation explained that its maintenance crews do not scan dead animals for microchip information, in part because “often times the aftermath of animals being hit by vehicles is too gruesome to allow for that type of identification.”

But that’s not to say NMDOT employees aren’t sympathetic to the plight of animal owners searching for a lost pet.

Phil Gallegos, who handles information for NMDOT’s District 3 office, says, “There have been times where a pet collar with tags has been used to try and notify the pet’s owner. I have done that myself several times, including a time where the owners asked for us to go ahead and dispose of the pet only to have a change of heart a couple of hours later.”

Gallegos says “the pet owner requested the return of the animal so the daughter could bury it and obtain closure. I contacted the highway maintainer responsible for the disposal and recovered the pet and delivered it to the owners. Other department employees have done the same. As a pet owner I can empathize with (Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham’s loss of her Shih Tzu) and can only hope she recovers her pet.”

CYCLISTS NEED TO SHARE THE TRAIL: Vicki Bannerman points out in an email that “this city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to create bike trails throughout the area for (bicyclists). Why do you insist on using HIKING paths? As a tax-paying walker, I am tired of practicing ‘defensive hiking.’ The city street laws and open space rules apply to all of us equally. Bicyclists are not a special group exempt from all regulation, even though many behave that way.

“And to those of you who are polite and law abiding, thank you.”

USE YOUR THUMBS TO SIGNAL: George Loehr emails that the bumper sticker ” ‘Honk if you love Jesus, text if you want to meet him’ got me thinking. Apparently there are millions of people who believe they have the mental and physical dexterity to text while driving, but using a turn signal is just too difficult for them.”

THIRTY-FOUR ROAD DEATHS IN MAY: According to numbers compiled by the University of New Mexico for NMDOT, 27 of those deaths were in vehicles, five on motorcycles and two on foot.

Alcohol was a factor in at least seven of the deaths.

To date this year, of the 108 people killed in vehicles, just 33 were wearing seat belts. Of the 20 motorcycle fatalities, just three were wearing helmets.

Reach assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal at 823-3858;; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal