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Rights on red disallowed for safety’s sake

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — IT’S NOT SAFE TO TURN RIGHT ON RED HERE: John and Martha Bundrant “were wondering why they won’t let the cars eastbound at (the) Interstate 40 ramp exit onto Tramway turn right on a red light if there is no traffic going south on Tramway.”

They say “the light wait is very long to get off, and we have noticed that some cars do not wait and turn there to go toward Central anyway. There are other exits (with the same no-right-turn-on-red restrictions), such as the one off of I-40 going west to Louisiana. We feel this would be helpful to everyone.”

Phil Gallegos, who handles information for the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s District 3 office, says, “Both intersections your reader cites have an awful lot going on in terms of traffic movement. The I-40-eastbound-to-Tramway-southbound is very near to the Tramway/Central intersection. At that intersection there are multiple turning and through options including double lefts and rights. To eliminate incidents where drivers are crossing multiple lanes – southbound Tramway and ramp traffic weaving across five lanes – within a short distance, the right turn option from I-40 was taken away.

“The Louisiana situation is not the same setup but has traffic movements that are just as complex.”

WHAT ABOUT I-25 SOUTH OF THE BIG I?: C. C. Phifer emails that “according to a recent report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, the most-needed transportation project in Albuquerque is reconstruction of the Interstate-25/Gibson, C é sar Ch á vez and Lead/Coal interchanges.

“It seems that the Avenida Cesar Chavez intersection would be particularly important, since it is heavily used during the baseball, football and basketball seasons. It is also the I-25 exit for Lobo Village and Central New Mexico Community College. Some modest improvements of Exit 223 were made in 2013, but I would like to know if NMDOT has any long-term plans for a major modernization of this interchange.”

They do – if they can get the cash.

Gallegos says “an I-25 corridor study from the Big I south to Isleta – including the interchanges mentioned – has completed the first phase. Currently there is no funding in place for these interchanges, but they are definitely on our radar. An estimated $200 million would be needed for reconstruction, which may occur in phases or all at once depending on available funding. Completion of the study and build options are approximately two years out.”

THE SCRAMBLE TO GET WORK DONE ON 550: RC writes that the signs don’t match the work on U.S. 550.

He says “what is going on with highway 550 on weekends? Construction signs say that lanes may be closed 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.” Yet two recent weekends had “massive traffic backups” during the day on 550, forcing RC “to detour through Corrales to Alameda so that we could get to Placitas.”

The NMDOT’s Gallegos says RC is getting two projects mixed up.

That’s understandable, considering road crews are scrambling to beat the weather on some projects. Things like final paving and striping require dry weather and higher temperatures.

But back to RC’s backup. One project, involving intersection improvements, has the town of Bernalillo working at 550 and Don Tomas with “various lane closures at night and daytime shoulder work for intersection improvements.” That’s what the signs RC mentions refer to. That project continues through Dec. 17.

The other, which involved the NMDOT doing work on the bridge over the Rio Grande, ran through Nov. 24. Gallegos said in his regular traffic report that “U.S. 550 eastbound over the river will be reduced to a single lane for bridge maintenance. Expect delays!! Upon completion of the physical work a curing time – approximately 24 hours – is required. During this time the lane closure will remain in place with no visible activity.”

The daytime closures were dictated by “environmental restrictions (which) required this project to occur during the late fall and made night work to lessen traffic impacts not possible.”

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.