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Two wrong turns don’t make a right

DODGING SCOFFLAW TURNERS ON CENTRAL: Allison Abraham emails that’s because “there is something dangerously wrong with the timing of the signal lights at (San Pasquale/Lomas/Central near Old Town).

“Going north on San Pasquale you are only able to turn right (east) on to Central with a green arrow. I’ve been through this intersection five times in the last month, and every time I’ve done this the cars coming from the west on Central do not stop when I get the green arrow. Either the timing is wrong or the placement of their signal light is somehow wrong.”

Johnny Chandler, public information coordinator for Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development, explains that it’s all about following the rules of the road.

And he provided a photo of the signage as well.

“Drivers traveling eastbound on Central toward Downtown and want(ing) to turn right at Lomas to continue onto Central Avenue have a “no turn on red” sign that is clearly stated and visible. This is in place so that drivers turning south onto San Pasquale are able to make that turn without conflict with another driver. The issue here appears to be that drivers are not following the rules of the road and continue to turn right on the red. In order for drivers to turn south on San Pasquale, drivers on Central must abide the “no turn on red” sign. N.M. state law does allow drivers to turn right on red unless otherwise stated.”

CAN’T TURN ONTO COORS AT SEQUOIA: Rae Evans emails that “the intersection at Coors and Sequoia on the West Side has protected turn arrows for north/south on Coors, but none for east/west on Sequoia. This is a very busy intersection with many businesses – including Walgreens, Wells Fargo Bank, a Wendy’s and a strip mall – on all four corners. Drivers must yield to straight-through traffic on Sequoia before making a turn onto Coors, and also be mindful of the many pedestrians that are crossing six lanes of traffic on Coors.

“A month or so ago a police cruiser was involved in a crash here – looked like it was broadsided – not surprising. This intersection gets backed up on Sequoia with drivers waiting to turn and then end up dangerously rushing through when the light turns yellow. Any chance the city would consider putting a protected arrow for Sequoia-onto-Coors traffic?”

It did, but the intersection didn’t meet the threshhold.

Chandler says “this location was analyzed by a consultant last summer. The consultant report showed that left-hand turn arrows are not warranted. DMD always tries to balance safety and mobility. Without a safety issue that justifies the reduction of mobility on Coors, left-hand turns arrows on Sequoia just do not qualify.

“Installing left-hand turn arrows on Sequoia would slow travel times for all motorists at this intersection and increase air pollution unnecessarily. The increase of congestion on the very busy Coors Boulevard could also increase rear-end type collisions. This would reduce operations at this intersection and offer zero safety benefit.

“We ask all motorists to go the speed limit and be patient while driving. The system is designed to get you to your destination efficiently and safely.”

MORE ON U-TURN RIGHT OF WAY: Marc Ahlen follows up on recent columns, saying in an email “there is still an unanswered question related to who has right of way. When a motorist has a left-turn green arrow and it is legal to make a U-turn, how do they know that a person coming from the left has a protected arrow for a right turn?

“I have personally experienced near collisions at Montaño and Coors where a person who was traveling north Coors decides to make a U-turn on a green left-turn arrow and head south again. Then a person heading east on Montaño is turning right with a protected arrow to also head south. Who has the right of way in this situation? Both motorists have a protected arrow, and there is no sign prohibiting a U-turn.”

Chandler explains:

“1. When a right-turn arrow is present, the right-turning car has right of way.

“2. When a right-turn arrow is not present, then the U-turning vehicle has right of way.

“3 When a U-turn arrow is present, there is never a right turn arrow, and the U-turning vehicle has right of way.

“The right-turning vehicle either has right of way or has no way of knowing that a vehicle from the left turn lane might make a U-turn since cars don’t come with a U-turn signal. It’s basically on the U-turner to take due care.”

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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