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$2 could have gotten us new plates every 8 years

MORE CLARITY ON THOSE FADED PLATES: After last week’s column on faded license plates and the failed attempts to make replacing them mandatory, Mitch Barker has some insight.

“The last Legislature did indeed consider a vehicle license plate renewal bill, HB-167, which set the life of a plate at a maximum eight years,” he emails. “It passed the House 39 to 21 and the Senate 35 to 2. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham then vetoed the bill. In doing so she cited the law already on the books requiring replacement of illegible license plates that you mentioned in your column.

“She also justified her veto by saying she was being mindful of the pocketbooks of those who register vehicles in thinking of the $2-a-year addition to the cost of registration under the bill. If I may editorialize, this was despite the fact that New Mexico is one of the least expensive states for automobile registration ($27 to $62), especially compared with annual registration fees – in Alaska $100, Connecticut $80, Florida $225, Illinois $101, Maryland $135, Montana $217 and Oklahoma $85.”

HOW ABOUT INVESTING IN SOME SCIENCE? And Harold Morgan adds via email, “In my view, the MVD comments cop out. (Director) Alicia Ortiz cites ‘our high mountain desert sun.’ That is standard Albuquerque/Santa Fe chauvinism. Altitude varies widely across the state. Plates fade across the state. Ortiz says the problem is the red. Well, maybe, OK, so just leave it, Ortiz seems to want. How about a project with the plate manufacturer to work with the chemistry of the colors so they won’t fade? Ortiz ignores my peeling outside layer. …

“The Legislature won’t address the matter, Ortiz says, so that’s it. Instead, how about spending a little of the new administration’s political capital on the problem?”

WHERE’S THE COORS/LAS ESTANCIAS SIGNAL? Jean Hooton shares: “At least a year ago, the traffic light pole on southbound Coors Road at Las Estancias SW was wiped out and not replaced. Although the traffic light had never been activated due to the lack of development in that area of the Las Estancias Shopping center, (soon to open is) a large, newly constructed Presbyterian health clinic.

“With the expected traffic associated with this facility,” Jean’s email continues, “it is urgent that the traffic light be restored and immediately activated at this intersection in order to allow drivers to acclimate to the increased traffic. Coors Road is a designated state road and truck route and carries an enormous amount of north-south traffic through this area.”

And Bernalillo County is on it.

Bobby Baker, the county’s Traffic Control administrator, says, “The developer hired a contractor to make the repairs. This intersection will be activated once the repairs are completed, which should be sometime in July.”

WHO GETS TO FLASH RED LIGHTS? Paul Rockhold says in an email, “I was always taught/told that flashing red lights on a vehicle indicated an emergency vehicle – police, fire, EMT. As I drive from Belen to Albuquerque, I continually see red lights on highway maintenance vehicles etc. What is going on?”

Gallegos says, “NMDOT does respond to emergencies on the interstates and highways. It is policy that NMDOT is allowed to have red and blue flashing lights in the back of their vehicles, however, red is not allowed in the front; usually these are orange, blue and clear.”

And as reported in this column before, state statutes 66-7-6 (Authorized emergency vehicles) Section C and 66-3-835 (Special restrictions on lamp) Sections C and E state:

“Only fire department vehicles, law enforcement agency vehicles, ambulances and school buses shall display flashing red lights visible from the front of the vehicle. All other vehicles authorized by the Motor Vehicle Code to display flashing lights visible from the front of the vehicle may use any other color of light that is visible.”

Those authorized vehicles include “emergency vehicles … snow-removal equipment and highway-marking equipment” as well as tow trucks that are removing or towing a vehicle.

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.