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Pedestrian peril, trashed curbs and roundabout

SILVER’S PEDESTRIAN FRIENDLY? Genevieve Aragon emails, “I am trying to understand how the crosswalk at Fifth and Silver can be considered ‘pedestrian friendly’ when it is a 4-way stop and people frequently blow through it, almost running over the pedestrians walking in the crosswalk.”

She adds,”It is a high-use crosswalk for workers at PNM, customers coming to pay their bills at PNM and employees and people who need to access the Federal Building Downtown. We have been told many times that a traffic light will not be put back in because that is not considered pedestrian friendly. Any help here?”

With an explanation, at least.

Johnny Chandler, spokesman for the city’s Department of Municipal Development, says, “DMD approximately one year ago removed traffic signals at multiple locations Downtown, including one at Fifth and Silver.” The intersections that were changed from traffic signals to 4-way stops include Fifth and Roma, as well as Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth at Silver.

“Silver Avenue is a bicycle boulevard,” Chandler adds, “and adding the 4-way stops is a way to encourage motorists to check their surroundings at every intersection. When roadway users are required by law to stop at every intersection, their speed limit is lower and they are forced to check for cross traffic every block. Motorists are encouraged and required by law to follow all traffic signs and yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.”

TRUCKIN’ ON FORTUNA: Dgonzales812.dg asks in an email, “Why are large trucks allowed to travel on Fortuna west of Coors? They have destroyed the curb and gutter on the newly updated turning lane on that intersection. There is no signage to warn drivers over two ton(s) not to travel down that road. There is a company at the end of Fortuna that repairs large trucks, and the reason there are so many trucks using that road.”

Chandler says that because Coors is maintained by NMDOT, that’s the entity that installed “those turn lane improvements.”

And Kimberly Gallegos, of the District 3 Office of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, says that while the city is responsible for Fortuna, “the public needs to realize that road is a public roadway and land use/zoning supports its use for all modes and sizes of vehicles.”

IN DEFENSE OF ROUNDABOUTS: As construction continues at Rio Grande and Candelaria, reader Glenn Hebert offers some perspective on the intersection configuration:

“I grew up in New England where roundabouts are very common on the old state roads and highways. They were brought over by the folks from Old England, who got them from the Romans, the greatest engineers the world has ever seen. At some point when I was learning to drive, my dad gave me the simple rules for maneuvering around them: always yield to the traffic on the left, as opposed to a traditional four-way stop where you yield to the traffic on the right.”

Glenn “cannot understand the resistance to having roundabouts, except for the drivers who want to blow through them like a red light. If they have a solid middle structure, you have to slow down or you will plow into it or tip over. We used to live in Billings, Montana, which has a road from the extreme north side of town to the extreme south end (with nine) separate intersections. …

“You should have heard the howling when they were replaced by roundabouts, including the mandatory ‘left-wing conspiracy’ and ‘right-wing conspiracy’ BS, depending on your point of view. Well, during a subsequent visit back there, we went through all nine of those intersections and didn’t have to stop one time. That’s the beauty of them. Fewer stops, less pollution, slower drivers. And all you have to do is yield to the traffic on the left. What a deal.”

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

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