$38M headed to NM for EV chargers; is the singing roadway coming back? - Albuquerque Journal

$38M headed to NM for EV chargers; is the singing roadway coming back?

MORE PLACES TO CHARGE COMING: Last week the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy announced nearly $5 billion to build out a national electric vehicle charging network.

And $38.4 million of that is headed to New Mexico over the next five years.

Clearly there are miles to go. While New Mexico is already in the Top 10 states in the country based on pending/ready EV corridor miles – seventh with 2,128.19 – that doesn’t get you far in the fifth-largest state in the nation. (The other states in order are California with 6,176.89 miles, then Texas, Oregon, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and after New Mexico, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania.)

The money can be used “for projects directly related to the charging of an electric vehicle and support EV charging infrastructure,” according to a USDOT news release.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news release of her own that “electric vehicles are a key part of reducing emissions in the transportation sector – the funding allocated today will help ensure New Mexicans can charge up in convenient locations. Reliable infrastructure is important for expanding EV use, and we will ensure efficient and equitable deployment across New Mexico.”

New Mexico’s designated alternative fuel corridors are along Interstate 25, Interstate 10, U.S. 70 and U.S. 285. The state’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan is expected in April and must be submitted by Aug. 1; funds will be made available no later than Sept. 30.

BRINGING BACK THE SINGING ROADWAY? With just a few days left in the 2022 Legislature, time’s slipping away to pass Senate Memorial 11, introduced by Sen. Gregg Schmedes, R-Tijeras. The memorial asks the state Department of Transportation to consider restoration of the Route 66 Musical Highway.

Installed in 2014 by the National Geographic Channel in 1,300 feet of the eastbound lanes of what is now N.M. 333, part of the old U.S. 66 through Tijeras Canyon, the highway played “America the Beautiful” if your tires hit the rumble strips at 45 mph.

At least it did.

The proposed legislation points out the singing roadway, one of just six in the world, has “fallen into great disrepair, with a section covered over with asphalt, leaving only a small section of the musical highway working properly.” It says “if restored, the musical highway would have the potential for being a great asset for New Mexico tourism and the enjoyment of residents alike.”

It also gets folks to drive the speed limit to make the song play.

There is no appropriation in SM 11; cost of repairs is estimated in the fiscal impact report at $750,000, with annual maintenance around $25,000 a year.

HANDICAPPED PLACARDS DELAYED: JB says in a SpeakUp! “let’s hope that the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division hasn’t been paying the vendor who was supposed to create the handicapped placards for the last five or six months but didn’t. With our luck, they’re someone’s cousin, and they probably got a bonus.”

Actually, no cousin or bonus. Blame the inability to get the heavy plastic the placards are made of.

Charlie Moore of the state Taxation and Revenue Department, which oversees MVD, says “at the risk of perpetuating a cliché, it’s a supply-chain issue. Our supplier has had an issue obtaining the stock usually used for the placards, and we’re working with them on an alternative. So, for the time being, people should continue to use the paper temporary placards we’ve issued to them.”

YELLOW LAW ANOTHER REASON FOR TRAFFIC OUTLAWS: John Kolessar, who’s a retired traffic manager with experience in three cities and two states – including Albuquerque – explains “New Mexico is one of very few states that allow anyone entering the intersection on yellow a ‘pass’ even if the light turns red immediately after entering. Most states issue tickets if the driver is anywhere in the intersection when the light turns red.”

And he says this has “a serious impact on driver behavior. In all the other states, drivers seeing a yellow light get on the brake and come to a stop before the light turns red. In New Mexico because of the enforcement interpretation, drivers seeing a yellow light here get on the gas. This driver behavior is responsible for a huge number of accidents, millions in property damage, many serious personal injuries and fatalities.”

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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