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Why road work goes on in the age of coronavirus

Last week my colleague Jessica Dyer reported on the city of Albuquerque rolling out millions of dollars of city projects. And my column included the city saying roundabout work would continue despite Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home coronavirus order.

And that prompted reader Sheila Pugach to email, “It seemed that the people you mentioned are not observing the ‘essential services’ only order from the governor. I do not consider the roads as essential to us.”

Johnny Chandler, public information coordinator for the city’s Department of Municipal Development, explains that “road construction is important because motorists still need to get around the city – whether that is to a grocery store, the pharmacy or any other essential location at this time.

“It is also important that our first responders and truck drivers are able to get around without any impediments. The economy is and will be hurting after this is over. This infusion of road and construction projects will keep money moving into the economy.”

And he has a breakdown of the $70 million in projects the city has on deck:

• Marble/Arno pump station, $17 million

• International District Library, $14.5 million

• Westside Community Center, $9 million

• Singing Arrow Community Center, $5.6 million

• 12th and Menaul intersection improvements, $4.5 million

• Explora STEM Expansion, $4 million

• Jennifer Riordan Sports Complex field six and new signage, $3.4 million

• Pinned medians along ART route, $3 million

• Railyard utilities and streetscapes, $2.5 million

• Cross walk improvements and roadway striping, $1.5 million

• Median landscaping in key city locations, $1 million

• Convention Center display boards, $750,000

• HAWK Signal in Nob Hill, $350,000-$450,000.

• Central underpass pedestrian renovation, $400,000

• Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades throughout southeast Albuquerque, $300,000

BIGGER TP LOADS ALLOWED: Last week the governor allowed heavier-than-normal vehicles on New Mexico roads “when their loads consist primarily of relief supplies.”

In a news release from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Lujan Grisham says, “This is one step we can take to move critical supplies to the places they are most needed during this crisis.”

The Emergency Expedited Special Permits increase the weight limit for trucks carrying food, beverages, medicine, medical supplies, clothing and building materials intended for temporary shelters to 88,000 pounds. (The prior limit was 86,400 pounds.) The order runs through July 1.

Permit applications are at nmdot-permits@state.nm.us.

WHAT ABOUT EXPIRING EMISSIONS? Last week the federal government extended the deadline to get a Real ID to October 2021, and the state shut down all state and privately run Motor Vehicle Division offices with the understanding there would be no penalties for folks who can’t get their MVD business taken care of.

Alan Schwartz emails that “with all the emphasis now on staying home, has there been any discussion about extending the expiration dates on emission testing certifications? As I recall some previous reporting, the MVD computer will automatically generate a vehicle registration suspension if the emissions renewal is not on time.”

There has been.

Travis Miller, environmental health manager in the city’s Vehicle Pollution Management Division, says, “Since emissions testing is a registration requirement and enforced by MVD, if registrations or subsequent registration suspension/fees by MVD are on hold, emissions testing requirement is essentially on hold until the registration process is back.”

AND MY LICENSE IS MISSING THE ADDRESS: Meanwhile, Cheryl Senitz says in an email, “I recently renewed my driver’s license to get my Real ID. When it came in the mail, I noticed it had my correct street name but not my house number. Is this something new or was it a mistake?”

Charlie Moore, who handles information for MVD’s parent department Taxation and Revenue, explains that “due to a programming error, driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division between March 5 and March 22 inadvertently omitted street number information in the address fields.”

He says MVD is mailing corrected licenses and ID cards in the next two weeks and “customers do not have to take any action as MVD has identified all those affected.”

And once you receive your complete license or ID, he says “destroy the older versions, as they will no longer be valid.”

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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