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Traffic calming options

THE MORE ROADS CHANGE: When this column started in 1995, Montaño was two lanes over the river.

Paseo del Norte did not go through Petroglyph National Monument.

Roundabouts were something they had in Europe.

And Unser was a dirt road between Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.


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But if 18 years shows nothing else, when it comes to traffic, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Metro-area residents continue to struggle with their commutes, especially when it involves getting across the Rio Grande every morning and afternoon. And reader questions, concerns and comments are what makes the Road Warrior column relevant.

Today, there’s the added advantage of camera phones and email, meaning you can immediately show the site you feel is a problem, whether it’s a pothole or worn striping or a misaligned intersection.

So please, continue to keep those concerns comin’ in, and I will continue to work to get answers and action from the road experts!

HOW ABOUT A NON-ROUND ROUNDABOUT? As the City Council drama of Rio Grande/Candelaria traffic calming continues to go around and around, Bernalillo County has half of one planned for the three-way stop at Shelly Drive/Cerro Colorado road, near the Metropolitan Detention Center and landfill.

David Mitchell, director of the county’s Operations and Maintenance Department, says “what it attempts to do is incorporate the calming approaches of a roundabout without the actual circle. In the end, both sides of (a roundabout) debate want a calmed but non-impeding intersection.”

The county plan will help slow traffic down by steering it away from the center of the intersection without constructing a big circle in the middle.

Mitchell says “for full-size modern roundabouts, there is always what is known as a ‘deflection’ as one goes into the roundabout. It is a ‘wiggle’ in the otherwise straight road that points vehicles in the direction of flow of the circular part of the roundabout, or circulator. The deflection is also the component that must slow the traffic down enough so that everybody coming into the roundabout is going about the same speed as the circulator.”

At Shelly/Cerro Colorado, he says, the final $36,000 product – around half for design and half for materials – will look “basically like a serpentine turn bay (that) will give the side-road travelers safer opportunities to cross.


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WHO TRAFFIC CALMING IS AIMED AT: Mitchell goes on to explain that “any good calming measure does not impede the law-abiding folks driving under or at the speed limit but filters out the smaller percentage of egregious chronic speeders that don’t make any pretense of abiding by a sign and go way over. A lot of drivers, especially if a speed limit is set arbitrarily low, will just stop paying attention and drive whatever’s comfortable. A fair number of us are unfortunately comfortable going very fast and this is a problem on this particular wide open, straight road with nothing along the sides of it.

“What we’ve found is that the mild calming – almost just having something ‘different’ – will remind 99 percent of the drivers, whereas calming that is too hard or oppressive will make drivers attempt to ‘make up time’ on the other side of the calming,” Mitchell says. “Some speeds actually go up between calming devices that are too harsh. Obviously, there are drivers that only law enforcement can deal with, but they eventually get enough points on their records, ‘cause those folks are not being selective about their speeding. Consider this new intersection a true ‘friendly reminder’ for the 99 percent of drivers.”

N.M. 528 WORK INVOLVES DRIVEWAYS, NOT THROUGH LANES: Last week the question of what are all those barricades off 528 about came up.

Apparently, they are about private sector work.

Peter Wells, Rio Rancho’s communications officer, says staff believes the barricades involve “work by Intel related to their entrance that was approved/coordinated through the state.”

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays and West Siders and Rio Ranchoans on Saturdays. Reach her at 823-3858;; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103; or go to to read previous columns and join in the conversation.
— This article appeared on page 06 of the Albuquerque Journal