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A street tent, vanishing merge lanes and a Paseo mess


That pandemic-era question comes from EJ Gentz, who shares in an email that “In Old Town, the Church Street Cafe has put up an outdoor dining tent in the middle of Church Street, effectively closing Church Street. Is this even legal?”

In this case, it is.

Matt Ross of Mayor Tim Keller’s office says, “Last month we announced a grant program to help restaurants create safe spaces for dining – so they can stay afloat through the pandemic. We made $200,000 available to struggling local restaurants to expand patios, open tents in parking lots, and do some limited street-closure setups if the circumstances are right. We also waived some fees for permits, etc.

“Church Street applied and was granted one of the permits. They are so far the only one who has been approved for street closure, but only a couple of restaurants have shown interest in that. The overwhelming majority, nearly 200, have stuck on patio, parking lot, and sidewalk dining.”

WHERE DID THE TRAMWAY MERGE LANES GO? A reader emails, “While we certainly appreciate the recent resurfacing of Tramway Boulevard, what we do not appreciate is the removal of the merge lanes that were once there. I was told by the New Mexico Department of Transportation this was done to protect the pedestrians and bicyclists that ride along Tramway Boulevard.

“However, what you have now is an even more dangerous situation where vehicles entering Tramway must turn directly into 50-plus mph traffic. Not even a week has gone by and already there has been a collision at Tramway and San Bernardino because of the lack of these merge lanes.”

Kimberly Gallegos, who handles information for NMDOT’s District Three office in Albuquerque, says “the NMDOT is aware of the writer’s concerns. As we move forward with new projects, our engineers are always looking for ways to improve our highways and roadways. Tramway had a real need for new bike lanes as this area is heavily used by the bicycle community. We understand this is a huge change to drivers that are used to the auxiliary lanes, but with time the traveling public will adjust to these changes.”

CAN PASEO GET CLEANED UP? Victor emails that “Paseo del Norte looks terrible. Litter, weeds, trash both east- and westbound. Who’s responsible for cleaning it up?”

How about who’s responsible for making it that way?

Gallegos says, “I have informed crews of this area of concern. Both the litter crew and our maintenance patrol will address the litter and weeds in the area, and we will also schedule sweeping with our environmental management crew.

“The issue we are having with Paseo is that people are not securing their loads, and when debris flies off of a vehicle, it ends up getting snagged on a tree or in the median. Paseo del Norte from Coors to I-25 does not have shoulders for crews to work on without impacting traffic. Therefore, work has to be scheduled when a lane closure takes place. Crews regularly schedule cleanups on Paseo, however, within a matter of days trash and debris accumulate in this area.”

MORE MVD HELP FOR SENIORS AND CDLS: Charlie Moore of the Motor Vehicle Division’s parent agency, Taxation and Revenue, has some updates on recent improvements for customers:

• “Senior hours are now available for people 75 and older.” Those hours are 8-10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at these state-run offices: Clovis, Farmington, Roswell, Santa Fe on Camino Entrada, and in Albuquerque at the Eagle Vista, Montgomery, Rio Bravo and Sandia Vista offices.

• “The commercial vehicles bureau was able to create a 120-day temporary license for commercial driver’s license holders. Right now, anyone whose license expires (between) March 11 (and) Oct. 31 is eligible.” Go to, select Online Services, then Drivers & Placards, then Print Temporary License and enter the requested information.

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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