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Political signs have no place in right of way


It’s election sign season again. And the New Mexico Department of Transportation is ready to clean up.

Kimberly Gallegos, who handles public information for District 3, says in a Transportation Department news release that “state law prohibits any person from placing, maintaining or displaying any unauthorized sign upon any highway. Especially during election years, signs are often posted on state road right-of-ways. … Signs that encroach on the right-of-way, including signs mounted to the fencing or signs/signal support posts, will be removed.”

The says the department “does not discriminate when removing signs. Any item that impedes the roadway or right-of-way can be considered a safety issue to pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.”

That said, you can try to get your signs back. While there is no guarantee NMDOT will have them or that they will not be damaged, Gallegos says “if anyone believes their signs have been removed and collected from a state road right-of-way by the NMDOT, they are welcome to contact their local NMDOT district office to collect the signs at an agreed-upon time and district location within two weeks.”

No right turn on red: Several readers have emailed in concerns about right turns. First, the no-right-on-red issue.

Dan Webster writes, “I’ve seen more people treat red lights as stop signs. Surprised there aren’t more accidents. Maybe there are. Even before the pandemic there’s a very dangerous intersection near Old Town. Central Avenue/San Pasquale/Lomas is nuts.

“Eastbound Central at San Pasquale clearly has a sign, No Turn on Red. That’s totally ignored. Ask any ART bus operator. The number of buses honking at motorists blowing through the red light to make their right turn to continue onto Central is staggering. Several times I’ve had to brake quickly when my green arrow from westbound Central to southbound San Pasquale was interrupted by oncoming traffic turning right on red off eastbound Central/Lomas.

“Similarly those turning off Lomas to San Pasquale or eastbound Central with their green arrow often have to dodge westbound Central motorists running the red light.”

Traffic folks have said in previous columns that those no-right-on-red signs are placed for driver safety, especially when driver visibility is limited and/or it’s a complex intersection with “multiple turning and through options.”

Dan’s concern is “if the city traffic department has not addressed this issue, eventually the Albuquerque Police and Fire and Rescue departments will have some cleanup to deal with.”

BUT STOP IF YOU CAN TURN ON RED: Meanwhile, Marilyn Gruen writes that “a reader remarked that many drivers do not come to full stops at stop lights before they turn right on a red light. This situation occurs frequently on Tramway, and I have had several close calls while biking.

“When I have a green light and am biking straight through the intersection, I see the driver look quickly to the left to see if there is oncoming traffic. The driver then starts to make the right turn and proceeds into the merge lane onto Tramway. The driver has the red light, and I have the green light! Furthermore, when cars have tinted driver side windows, bikers can’t tell whether they are being seen by the driver.”

Marilyn asks for a reprint of the state statute. Here it is: 66-7-105C on red signals “(1) vehicular traffic facing the signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if there is no crosswalk, then before entering the intersection, and may turn right after standing until the intersection may be entered safely, provided that such vehicular traffic shall yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians and vehicles lawfully in or approaching the intersection.”

AND KUDOS ON THE TRAMWAY UPGRADES: Marilyn also says, “I was thrilled to read that the repaving of Tramway would be continuing northbound from Montgomery to the county line (Road Warrior, June 22). As a frequent biker on Tramway, it’s great to see that the new roads include designated bike lanes at the intersections.”

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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