NMDOT struggles to keep pace with illegal encampments - Albuquerque Journal

NMDOT struggles to keep pace with illegal encampments

WHY ARE TENTS ALLOWED ALONG THE HIGHWAYS? As the homeless population has exploded in the Albuquerque metro area, readers have been asking why tents are allowed in the highway right of way.

That includes the tents, shopping carts and debris along the fences at the Interstate 40 and Coors interchange, and those precariously balanced along I-40 outside the Winrock Town Center fence.

Such encampments are illegal, but there are so many the New Mexico Department of Transportation says it has to prioritize which ones to remove first, as well as go far outside the highway mission and try to get the unhoused help and tackle cleaning up the area once the campers have left.

District Three Engineer Justin Gibson says in short, “encampments on NMDOT property are not allowed. The camps that currently exist are a result of the current socioeconomic condition and are addressed as soon as practical by NMDOT and partnering agencies.”

But the complex problem of homelessness deserves his longer explanation.

“As you know, NMDOT is responsible for the operation and maintenance of our interstates, national highways and New Mexico state routes to include road and bridge infrastructure and associated NMDOT transportation network, and our mission is not one of being a human services resource agency,” Gibson says. “Encampments are a new and steadily increasing challenge for NMDOT. Encampments within the NMDOT right of way, especially along our interstate systems, are prohibited as this federal property under the purview of NMDOT and the Federal Highway Administration as part of the USDOT is access controlled, meaning access to and from the interstate is strictly controlled to ensure mobility of vehicular traffic including freight, commuters and local traffic. ”

HOW THEY ARE REMOVED: Gibson says ” NMDOT, along with other partnering agencies, has a process in place to work to remove encampments within the right of way, but as you can see the resource of our staff conducting this process is heavily outweighed by the number of camps. On a daily basis NMDOT District Three receives calls about camps within NMDOT right of way, which are prioritized to a schedule to be given notice to be vacated.

“NMDOT District Three works in collaboration with multiple agencies to address the encampments of unsheltered individuals along I-40 and I-25, which includes the clean-up of abandoned trash and debris. District Three’s main concerns are for the safety of the unsheltered individuals, the traveling public and the safety/condition of our state and national infrastructure.”

HOW THEY ARE PREVENTED: As for stopping the camping before it starts, Gibson says “District Three has placed ‘no trespassing’ signs in a number of NMDOT’s right of way facilities in an attempt to advise individuals it is not safe to be in these areas. NMDOT will also be providing individuals booklets for resources available to them in the Albuquerque area. Our intent is we can educate the unsheltered community about the rules of our right of way and deter future instances of illegal encampments.”

The main number to NMDOT District Three is (505) 934-0354.

I-40 WORK STARTS TODAY: Mike called to report I-40 is in rough condition coming into town from Tijeras, and signs have been announcing upcoming work. So what is it?

Kim Gallegos with NMDOT District Three says beginning today, May 9, crews will work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on an $8.1 million roadway rehabilitation project from Tijeras to Carnuel – basically a total repave of the interstate. Two lanes of traffic will remain open both eastbound and westbound, and the project is expected to tun through January 2023. Check out nmroads.com for updates.

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.


Home » ABQnews Seeker » NMDOT struggles to keep pace with illegal encampments

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
‘Weak mayor’ proposal sets up possible 10-member City Council
ABQnews Seeker
Councilors deferred until June 21 a ... Councilors deferred until June 21 a proposal that would reshape Albuquerque's government
Camp in session: UNM basketball players get experience coaching ...
ABQnews Seeker
Monday, at the Pit, 75 3rd ... Monday, at the Pit, 75 3rd through 7th graders were wide eyed and excited to be learning from their favorite Lobo basketball stars.
Can rivalry games be saved? UNM, NMSU swap facility ...
ABQnews Seeker
Amid a rare offseason flare-up of ... Amid a rare offseason flare-up of rivalry drama, UNM and NMSU on Monday made progress toward getting their hoops rivalry going again.
Pipeline from this surprising school produces more transfers to ...
ABQnews Seeker
This week, two new transfer announcements ... This week, two new transfer announcements in as many days amounted to (unofficially) two new Lobos in former Alabama State running back Jacory Merritt ...
Thousands of households will have to pay more for ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Bernalillo County Solid Waste Program ... The Bernalillo County Solid Waste Program is implementing a 6% rate increase for trash and recycling for residents in the unincorporated areas of the ...
New Mexico United bumps up assistant to take over ...
ABQnews Seeker
Masaki "Mac" Hemmi, New Mexico United's ... Masaki "Mac" Hemmi, New Mexico United's first assistant coach, ran Monday's training session and will coach the team for Saturday's match at Tampa Bay ...
State agency extends contracts for Medicaid providers amid uncertainty ...
ABQnews Seeker
The move by the New Mexico ... The move by the New Mexico Human Services Department to extend the existing contracts through June 2024 - instead of the end of this ...
FBI biker gang expert warns of more violence in ...
ABQnews Seeker
The biker gang expert's testimony came ... The biker gang expert's testimony came during a pretrial detention hearing for one of two alleged Bandidos arrested after the Red River shootings. After ...
Body camera footage shows short foot chase before police ...
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque police on Monday released on-body ... Albuquerque police on Monday released on-body camera footage and additional information about a May 10 shooting.