141 mph on Coal, a too-short arrow, US 550 on list - Albuquerque Journal

141 mph on Coal, a too-short arrow, US 550 on list

The Lead-Coal corridor in Southeast Albuquerque has a higher crash rate than other corridors studied recently by the city. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

LEAD/COAL STUDY EYE-POPPING: The data comes courtesy of constant reader Bob Anderson of the Lead Coal Safety Brigade.

And even to veteran Albuquerque drivers, it’s pretty shocking.

Bob shared a copy of the Rest-in-Red Feasibility report done by Lee Engineering for the city of Albuquerque this summer. Rest-in-Red refers to having an intersection all-red when there is no traffic so it can immediately respond with a green signal when a vehicle pulls up. In layman’s terms, the signal will stay red if it clocks your approaching vehicle speeding, meaning you will have to stop moving altogether.

Well, unless you run red lights, that is. Not unheard of in Albuquerque. But back to the study, which looked at speeding on Lead and Coal in January and February of this year as well as crash da

ta from 2014 to 2018 on those corridors.

SPEED: The posted speed limit on these corridors is 30 mph. Yet during the days speed was measured for the study, vehicles were clocked on Lead going 57, 86, even 104 mph. On Coal they hit 62, 92, even 141 mph.

CRASHES: The study found that on Lead, the intersections at University, Girard and Yale “experienced the most significant number of crashes with 74, 64 and 62 crashes, respectively.” On Coal, the intersections at Yale and University “experienced the most significant number of crashes with 77 and 74 crashes, respectively. The top contributing factors were driver inattention, failure to yield right of way, following too closely, and improper backing.” The study says the intersections of Lead and Girard/Yale/Cedar and Coal and Girard/Carlisle/Yale had crash rates two to three times the mean.

It’s up to city leaders to decide if the study’s recommended intersection upgrades at $30,000 to $56,000 a pop will slow drivers down and get them to pay attention. But given the data who can argue the status quo is OK?

WHY ONLY TURNS ONTO I-25 ON ARROW? Virginia Myers, asks in an email why are left turns from San Mateo/Osuna and the Pan American Frontage Road onto Interstate 25 south allowed only on a green arrow, even “when there is no on-coming traffic?”

Virginia says “this is causing a major back-up issue on San Mateo, with traffic trying to get on I-25 and traffic getting off I-25 during rush hour because the green arrow doesn’t last that long. I don’t know if many traffic accidents were occurring there. I never saw any accidents. On weekend mornings the wait is ridiculous because there is no on-coming traffic. Wouldn’t a better solution be to have a blinking yellow arrow light that would allow traffic to turn to get onto I-25 when there is no on-coming traffic like … on Second and Alameda? If that’s not possible, how about a longer time for the green-turn arrow?”

Apparently, there were a lot of crashes, but changes could be on the way.

Kimberly Gallegos of the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s District 3 office says, “The decision to modify the signal phasing was coordinated between the city of Albuquerque and DOT. The reason was due to number and type of crashes that have been occurring at the intersection. The NMDOT traffic section will review the location and look at modifying the signal phasing, such as (a) length of green time, (b) change from a protected-only leading left turn to a protected-only lagging left turn, (c) change Time of Day plan, etc. DOT will make the observation and see how this works, once these modifications are made.”

FYI the reference to “leading” and “lagging” means the arrow comes before, or after, the regular green signal.

FIXES FOR U.S. 550: Karen A. emails, “My husband has been driving on U.S. 550 for nearly 50 years and has witnessed the continued deterioration of 550 from Aztec to the Colorado state line to a point where it has become a disgrace to our state. Many out-of-state travelers use this road. It has to be one of the worst sections of any highway in the state. Any plans to resurface that stretch of 550 in the near future?”

Jim Murray, public information officer for state Department of Transportation’s District 5, says yes. “We are aware of the deteriorated condition of that stretch of U.S. 550, and it is very high on our list of repaving projects. As soon as funding becomes available, we will be putting this project out to bid. We are hoping that this will occur within the next 12 months.”


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