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That unsecured load costs us all, big time

TRASH PICKUP TOOK $5.1 MILLION IN PUBLIC CASH: The New Mexico Department of Transportation is reminding motorists that it is the law to make sure the stuff in your vehicle doesn’t end up on our roadways.

Having items fly off the racks on your car or out of the bed of your pickup, for instance, can get you a “$300 fine for littering on state highways,” according to a news release. “New Mexico statute 66-7-364 states ‘No person shall throw, deposit, drop or permit to be dropped, any trash, or destructive, injurious material upon any highway.’ ”

Last year NMDOT spent 86,000 labor hours picking up road debris – that cost you and me $2.7 million, but that just made a dent in the garbage on and along our highways and state roads. NMDOT’s communications director, Marisa Maez, says in the news release that we spent an additional $2.5 million on inmate labor costs.

Imagine what New Mexico could do with $5.1 million instead of cleaning up after the lazy, the irresponsible and the clueless?

But it gets worse.

Maez adds, “In 2016 nationwide, there were 683 deaths, more than 19,000 injuries and more than 90,000 traffic incidents related to unsecured loads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

State Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval says in the news release that “drivers need to spend the extra time and a few extra dollars to ensure nothing is going to fly off their vehicle and cause a fatal crash or injury to innocent people traveling behind them.”

That means “don’t rely on the weight of a load to hold it in place; use rope, netting, straps or cords to tie loads down; tie large objects like chairs or mattresses directly to the vehicle or trailer; cover the load with a sturdy tarp or netting, especially when hauling loose material like branches, logs or miscellaneous objects like furniture that can fly out of the vehicle; don’t overload the vehicle; and always double check to make sure a load is secure.”

SPENDING $3 MILLION ON PARADISE: Jim asks in an email “why the city decided to spend quite a bit of money widening the stretch of Paradise from Golf Course to Eagle Ranch. It appears that the road will be about 18 inches wider in most places. Who decided that this was a useful way to spend bond money? Will the whole section of road be repaved when it’s all done? What’s the cost?”

Though it’s hard to picture the finished product, the city says Paradise is getting quite a bit more than a few inches of asphalt.

Johnny Chandler, public information coordinator for the city of Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development, says, “The Paradise Boulevard improvement project from Eagle Ranch to Golf Course began on April 8 and is schedule to be completed in December of this year.

“We have been planning this project since 2014. The total cost of this project for design and construction is $3 million; the money came from the ¼-cent transportation tax.

“The project calls for two lanes in each direction, a multi-use trail on the south side of the roadway and a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the Paradise. We will also rehabilitate the existing roadway, add traffic signage, street lighting, as well as storm drain modifications and traffic signal modifications.”

As for west of Golf Course, Chandler explains that the “portion of Paradise from Golf Course to just past Justin Road NW is in Bernalillo County jurisdiction.”

Repairs to a sewer collapse Thursday in the 2200 block of Second SW near El Modelo restaurant are expected to take two to three weeks, according to the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. Both lanes of Second Street will remain closed during repairs, but sewer service and business access will be maintained. (Source: ABCWUA)

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.

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