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Program aims for fast crash cleanup

YOU CAN CLEAR WRECKS MORE QUICKLY: And limiting time spent in traffic backups means more than limiting frustration, though most Metro-area drivers would appreciate that.

It also means saving money – in the form of medical costs, vehicle repairs, insurance premiums and the cost of public personnel – and saving lives, according to a program the New Mexico Department of Transportation is working to get in place here.

The Train the Trainer program emphasizes that the subsequent congestion from wrecks with injuries “often generates secondary crashes, further increasing traveler delay and frustration. For every minute a lane is closed, the odds of a secondary incident occurring goes up 3 percent.”

And there are a lot of lanes closed in the metro area, as anyone who has to commute on the interstates and handful of river crossings can tell you. In fact, according to a recent presentation by Charles Remkes of NMDOT, in 2011 there were 1,206 wrecks with injuries, that jumped to 1,652 in 2012, and was at 1,070 through August of this year.


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To limit backups and secondary crashes – as well as the risk to the many professionals whose job it is to respond to and clean up a wreck – the Train the Trainer program works to integrate accident response. It means everyone from law enforcement to rescue to towing to public works personnel operate as a team from the time a call comes in to the time a wreck is cleared.

The theme of the 12-hour course, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, is that a “unified team approach allows the roads to be cleared faster” to “save lives, save money (and) save time.” It takes accident responders through the principal laws, the notification process and sizing up the scene, arrival and vehicle positioning, scene safety, command responsibilities, traffic management, special circumstances (such as hazardous spills, fires and scene preservation) and clearing the scene.

Remkes says the course is already accredited by the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, and accreditation by the Fire Training Academy is in the works.

NOW WASHINGTON’S CLOSING, TOO? Just in time for the holidays, Bob emails that he “heard (a) rumor that Washington NE will be closed for gas or sewer line repair between Paseo del Norte and Alameda NE after Thanksgiving.”

He’s right.

David Morris, public affairs manager for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, says “we are in the process of installing 700 feet of 36-inch water transmission line underneath Washington NE. We are moving the line to this location because of the Paseo/Interstate 25 project. We anticipate that the work, along with gas-line installation that will run parallel, will require the closure of Washington between Paseo and the Domingo Baca Channel between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

SOUND OFF ON ROAD/BUS/TRAIL NEEDS: Metro-area commuters have until Dec. 13 to weigh in on the Mid-Region Council of Governments 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

The survey has 21 questions and takes an estimated 12 minutes. It asks how the current system of roads, buses, trains, sidewalks, trails and bike lanes work for folks now – and how they want them to work in the future.

Planners will sit down and comb through the responses when guiding the region’s transit systems, so it’s important to get concerns in front of them. Log onto and let yours be heard.

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays and West Siders and Rio Ranchoans on Saturdays. Reach her at 823-3858;; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103; or go to to read previous columns and join in the conversation.