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More signage on the way for Big I bottleneck

BIG I NEEDS A CONGESTION WARNING: That suggestion comes from Crawford MacCallum of Tijeras, who emails, “Approaching the Big-I from the east on Interstate 40, the right-hand lane, turning right to go north on Interstate 25, is often congested and slows down way below the speed limit. This slow-down can extend all the way back to the I-40 University exit. Taillights usually are not blinking and there is no warning to an inattentive oncoming driver.”

In fact, Crawford shares, “I have seen several near-accidents and recently rear-ended the car ahead of me at pretty high speed.” And while “what’s needed is another right turn lane,” Crawford has a suggestion: “In the meantime, how about some signage to warn the oncoming driver to pay extra attention?”

In fact, as of mid-May the state highway folks did some upgrades along those lines.

Kimberly Gallegos of the District 3 Office of the New Mexico Department of Transportation says, “District Three has installed the following items on the roadway to assist with this issue. We also have a current project that will evaluate congestion management, but it is still in the early stages of the project.”

• I-40 westbound between San Mateo and Carlisle, installed overhead signs indicating which lane to be in;

• I-40 westbound between Carlisle and University, installed pavement markings indicating which lane to be in.

CAN WE LIMIT ACCESS ON RIO BRAVO? Paul Silva proposes that in an email, but first says, “The project at I-25 and Rio Bravo is a major improvement to the south end of our city, and it has been run well.”

NMDOT has said that $55 million in work, expected to be wrapped up this summer, widens I-25 to six lanes at the interchange, replaces bridges, updates the on- and off-ramps as well as storm drainage, coordinates the traffic signals from the interstate to Del Rio and adds a multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists.

“However,” Paul says, “despite these impressive improvements, crossing the river over the Rio Bravo bridge will continue to be the bottleneck. I would suggest that N.M. 500 (aka Rio Bravo) would make a excellent limited-access roadway connecting I-40 and I-25. It would require overpasses at major intersections with on and off ramps, especially Second Street with trains, and Coors.”

So “has this received serious consideration in long-term planning?”

Yes and no.

Gallegos says, “NMDOT is in the process of studying N.M. 500 and developing an access management plan for safety, movement through the corridor and access needs. We are not looking to make it a limited access road, but access management will help with the number of access points on the facility in consideration of the State Access Management Manual.”

ELIMINATING THOSE MANHOLE DIPS: That’s what Van asks for in a recent email.

“I do not want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I live off St. Joseph on the West Side (where) they recently resurfaced the roadway.

“However, some of the water and sewer service grates are now 2-3 inches below the roadway surface. Is there anything that might be done to lessen the new potholes created with each resurfacing? It has obviously been a few work projects without milling to reduce the surface height. I know it is more expensive, but in the long run reduces to the cost of damage to vehicles. I know where the wors(t) were and are now, but anyone going through for the first time runs the risk of damage.”

Manhole rings are used to bring a manhole cover up to grade with the surrounding pavement. (Source: Abcwua)

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority does “indeed have plans to bring the St. Joseph manholes level with the new pavement,” according to spokesman David Morris. The work was scheduled to happen the first part of July, “as soon as our contractor has a crew available.” He explains, “They are doing the same kind of work at other locations around town. We thank residents for their patience in the interim.”

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.