FROM GOOD TO BAD TO WORSE?
The drama that is Paseo del Norte and Tramway Boulevard continues.
It began with an acceleration lane for eastbound-to-southbound traffic. It was re-striped with a quick merge “to accommodate all modes of transportation,” then modified with delineators – white posts – to protect the bike lane. And now a new signal has many drivers confused about whether they can turn right on red.
Michael Riordan, the former director of the city of Albuquerque’s Municipal Development Department – which oversees things like road construction and signal timing – shares that instead of fixing the signal timing on Paseo del Norte, “they are doubling down on the crazy and adding a new signal at Paseo and Tramway, which was a free-flowing access from Paseo to Tramway. The intersection was fine before. Then the state added posts which forced a terrible merge, and now they use that improper design to justify a traffic signal. (It’s an) absolute waste of resources to ‘fix’ a problem that did not exist while ignoring the true problem of signal timing. … They took something that was working well and wasted money making it worse.”
WE NEED RIGHT-TURN CLARITY: Michael says the New Mexico Department of Transportation should at least “make it a right-turn-on-red, because 10-12 cars stacked up on Paseo waiting as no cars go southbound (on) Tramway is truly wasteful and infuriating.”
And he’s not alone – though readers report no consistency in how drivers act at the intersection.
Rock Tope emails “Sorry, I’m writing you again about that awful Paseo del Norte to south(bound) Tramway entrance way, which abruptly dumps drivers directly across a bike lane and into a 50 mph traffic lane. Officials said they would try improve the situation. They installed a traffic signal at the beginning of the entrance way, a truly weird place. … Now the situation is even worse. There is no sign saying if turn on red is allowed … so some vehicles are stopping at the red light and then proceeding into the entrance way, where they have to immediately merge across a bike line directly into a traffic lane, which was the original problem.”
Lee Smith sums it up with “some people are treating the right-turn light as a no-right-turn-on-red, and others are not.”
Steve Nix suggests “they probably need to add some additional signage since many drivers are … simply driving through the right-turn lane.”
Steve Shackley says “everyone just stops, then heads right through as if it wasn’t even there. I was stopped waiting for the green arrow, and everyone behind me was honking and one guy in a Ford F-250 went around me and headed right onto Tramway against the red light. Worse, a woman in a Corolla nearly hit a cyclist heading south on Tramway, apparently not even seeing him.”
Joseph Roesch says “the confusion in the last few months has become dangerous. There is … just a ‘Stop on Red Light’ sign. I interpret it to mean that when the light is red, I must stop at the white line. I am then permitted to turn right on the red light if it is safe to do so, per state law. I once remained stopped while waiting for the green arrow, but traffic behind me built up rapidly, as did the anger of drivers behind me. It seemed much safer to proceed after stopping rather than risk the ire of angry drivers!”
And Peter A. Stoll adds “the first time my Tesla Y operating in beta version full self-driving ran that red light, I considered it a bug and prepared to make a report … but in thinking about it, I realized the Tesla software probably classified this as a ‘right-turn-on-red’ with no explicit sign prohibiting same.”
STOP ON RED, THEN TURN RIGHT: Kim Gallegos of NMDOT’s District 3 Office explains “the acceleration lane onto Tramway from PDN was insufficient length and did not account for multimodal movement through the intersection. The additional signal head was added to provide clarity to the drivers who have to merge onto Tramway; the rest of the movements at this intersection were already signalized.”
She says while the city and county are working to better coordinate the signal timing through the Paseo/Tramway corridors, NMDOT has “ordered and plans to place a sign that reads ‘RIGHT ON RED, AFTER STOP.’ Hopefully, this will clear up any confusion for drivers.”
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; firstname.lastname@example.org; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.