'New' Paseo/Tramway safer? Drivers say no way - Albuquerque Journal

‘New’ Paseo/Tramway safer? Drivers say no way

DRIVERS MOSTLY HATE ‘NEW’ SETUP: After the New Mexico Department of Transportation removed the acceleration lanes from Paseo del Norte onto Tramway, drivers went nuts in the Nov. 29 column.

And their warnings, and suggestions for improvement, continue:

Steve Benning says it “has always been a poorly-designed intersection. The recent change made it worse. The sight line to merge safely is not good, especially at night or dusk or during low-light situations. The number of drivers who drive without their headlights on at night and especially dusk makes this intersection all the more dangerous. Bikes are hard to see. … Make right turns from Paseo onto Tramway legal on a green light only.”

Dan Balik says “that particular intersection is different from the others because of the volume and speed of the traffic on Paseo. That turn lane onto south Tramway will only be safe if there is a new and visible traffic light on the turn lane timed to the main light for the drivers heading south.”

Rock Tope shares “I both drive and ride my bike through that intersection. I believe the most workable solution is to remove the curving entrance to the erstwhile acceleration lane and bring vehicles to a 90-degree corner where they can either proceed to turn on a green or yield to on-coming traffic and turn on red when clear.”

Marianne Bettinger “drive(s) south on Tramway through the intersection almost every day and will make sure I am in the left lane because I had almost daily near-accidents with people merging south onto Tramway from Paseo when I was driving in the right lane, because they are caught off-guard and stop with their cars partly into the right lane on Tramway.”

Kent Argubright points out “because they force you to turn your vehicle 45 degrees, it makes it much, much more difficult to then look way back over your shoulder to clear traffic. … Second, because you avert your gaze so far to the left, you totally lose sight of anyone in or approaching the crosswalk in front of you. … With all this turning back and forth, it’s basically impossible to safely clear both the roadway and the crosswalk before proceeding.”

Steve Nix, who has 30 years in city and state law enforcement, emails “I have now been through the changed intersection three times, turning on to Tramway southbound. This went from a great turn lane with an acceleration lane to a hazardous merge lane. … When a person uses the turn lane, the view of southbound Tramway traffic is partially obscured. There will be more wrecks there.”

And Dan adds “they have taken functional acceleration merge lanes away to accommodate bicycles and created dangerously unsafe conditions for both autos and cyclists all along Tramway. It should be noted there is a safe alternative bicycle path the entire length on Tramway. … Because there has not been any traffic speed enforcement for a decade or more, drivers treat Tramway like it is the Autobahn.”

EXCEPT ONE: But Joe G., is on NMDOT’s side.

He says “Tramway is NOT an interstate, it is a surface street with cross traffic and traffic signals, along with a handful of bike riders and pedestrians who don’t seem to think the traffic signals apply to them. There is no need for ‘acceleration lanes’ on Tramway, and I was glad to see NMDOT remove many of them. If you are turning right … you simply stop, wait for traffic to clear, then make your turn. … Seems drivers here do not want to be inconvenienced by having to stop at a red light and wait for traffic to clear, they want traffic on Tramway to get out of their way.”

NMDOT SAYS IT’S ABOUT SLOWING DOWN: Margaret L. Haynes, NMDOT District 3 assistant traffic engineer, explains “the eastbound configuration at N.M. 556 (Tramway) and N.M. 423 (Paseo) was restriped to remove the acceleration lanes well over a year ago. What the configuration requires is compliance with the speed limit and signage. Vehicles approaching must slow down and must yield their right-of-way to southbound Tramway traffic. When traveling eastbound, sight distance is clear to see if the signal is green, if there are bikes or pedestrians crossing, and determine if there is a gap in traffic. Eastbound traffic must be prepared to stop if a pedestrian or bicyclist exist at the crossing. This time is available to everyone traveling eastbound – if they simply slow down.”

MEETING IN THE MIDDLE? Haynes says “NMDOT will continue to work to refine the configuration and add additional traffic control devices as needed. This modification is NMDOT’s effort to serve all modes of traffic in the safest manner possible. New Mexico has been leading the nation in pedestrian fatalities for several years. Changes need to happen to make our roadways safer. NMDOT will be pushing out more information regarding this intersection, a refresher on what traffic control devices mean and other safety facts.”

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, NM, 87109.


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