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Lack of funds limits Rio Grande upgrades

NO ROUND-ABOUT FOR MOUNTAIN NOW: After last week’s column looked at the right-of-way acquisition for the Rio Grande/Candelaria roundabout, AB asks in an email, “Are they still looking at making Mountain Road and Rio Grande a roundabout?”

Diane Dolan, analyst for City Councilor Isaac Benton, says, “There is currently no funding to pursue a roundabout at Rio Grande and Mountain, which was the ‘preferred’ of two options for the intersection studied in the Rio Grande Complete Street Concept Plan.”

The goal was to “develop implementable capital and/or operational transportation improvements along Rio Grande Boulevard to promote a safe, functional multi-modal streetscape.” See the full report at

Dolan adds that Benton did get $750,000 in the 2017 GO bonds for implementation of a few of the other segments:

• Cross section Aspen to Mountain phase 1 (the 2017 plan estimated Phase 1 at $90,000; the total was set at $2.46 million for “narrow travel lanes, buffered bike lanes, dashed green bike lanes at conflict areas, and landscape strip to buffer sidewalks, relocation of utilities to reduce obstructions, lighting, signage and wayfinding).”

• Bellamah Avenue intersection (estimated $480,000 for sidewalk improvements, median island, new crosswalk, bulbouts).

• Pueblo Bonito median (estimated $75,000 for island).

• Hollywood pedestrian crossing (estimated $180,000 for new crosswalk, RRFB – rectangular rapid flash beacon, and pavement improvements).

• Striping between Central and Alhambra (estimated $300,000 for removal of center-line stripe, addition of parking stripe, bulbouts, crosswalk improvements).

Dolan adds, “The plan estimates the cost of the roundabout at $2.69 million; no funding sources have been identified yet for design.”

REAL ID REAL EASY: Dennis Rishel emails “a quick note about my recent experience with the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division issuing a Real ID-compliant driver’s license. Turns out if you have a valid Social Security Card, passport and two other pieces of readily obtainable information, it takes about 10 minutes with the MVD representative. Actual license arrived in the mail seven days later. Ditto for my wife last October. Hopefully, this is now the normal experience for everyone.”

ATRISCO VISTA DETRACTORS: Readers have begged to differ with the city’s explanation in a recent column behind the lowered speed limit on Atrisco Vista. emails: “The 40 mph speed limit on Atrisco Vista is ridiculously low. Compare the width of the road, the visibility and the gentle curves with many other roads in the area and it is clear that 40 mph is too low. Atrisco Vista south of the airport is wider and has fewer curves than roads with limits of 50 or 55 mph. Where the road turns and becomes Paseo del Norte, the road is narrower with no paved shoulders – in some places NO shoulders – (and) the speed limit is 50 mph. Even the police do not drive 40 on that stretch of road, and they don’t seem to agree with the limit because they are not stopping vehicles going 50-55 mph.”

And David Woodward adds, “I was astounded when I drove on this stretch of road a week ago. I just could not believe how much the speed limit had been reduced! (Reader) Liz Osmun was exactly right when she pointed out that vehicles continually pass the speed-limit-abiding vehicles, even in no-passing zones. I agree that this is a really dangerous condition. The city employee that is responsible for this change, should be required to actually drive on the road, which can easily accommodate a speed 20 mph over what is currently posted.”

TO MUFFLE OR NOT? Stevengayle asks in an email, “Are cars and motorcycles in New Mexico not required to have mufflers? A lot don’t.”

New Mexico Statute 66-3-844 states: “A. Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise, and no person shall use a muffler cutout, bypass or similar device upon a motor vehicle on a highway.”

BRAVO FOR N.M. 14 WORK: Finally, Paul Schmolke says via email, “North of Tijeras, the newly re-done 2-mile stretch of Highway 14 has to be the finest road in the state – all new curb and gutter and all new paving and striping. Please check it out.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.