CLEANING UP THE VIEW OVER TRAMWAY AND CENTRAL: Tom MacDuffie asks in an email, “Can’t something be done to rid the corner of Tramway and Central, which now has a beautiful ‘introductory’ park, of the gigantic skeleton of the Chevron gas station? I keep thinking it will be gone someday, but it just doesn’t happen. Any inputs on its status – or how we could get rid of it?”
It actually could become the frame for public art.
Lindsay N. Burkhard, an Albuquerque City Council policy analyst, says, “I am excited to say that Councilor (Don) Harris has had his eye on that Chevron sign, too! We are exploring how we can use that skeleton Chevron sign for a public art project as our options for removing it are extremely limited; it is ‘grandfathered in.’ ”
The art angle is courtesy of a recent ordinance sponsored by Harris and fellow Councilor Isaac Benton “to address these ‘orphaned signs.’ ” The change to the city’s Public Art Ordinance passed the council unanimously last year, has been signed into law by Mayor Richard Berry, and clarifies that public art may be placed on privately owned free-standing signs or exterior walls via a simple lease or similar agreement. Under it, artists submit proposals for an available sign, the city’s “1 percent for the arts” program pays for the work, and the art is removed when the lease expires.
MORE ON THE FAST VS. THE SLOW LANE: In a recent column a reader brought up drivers who need to move to the right and clear the so-called fast lane for through traffic, and now others have weighed in with city vs. highway driving points of view.
In the left lane we have Judy, who emails that in the congested metro area drivers who need to turn left often have to get in the left lane before their intersection. “A lot of times I turn west off of Tramway onto Academy, for example, … and if I’m planning on making a left-hand turn, even if it’s miles away, I stay in the left lane generally. I drive at or a little over the speed limit, and I don’t see the left hand lane as being especially for those who want to go over the speed limit.”
She adds that “one time I was driving north on Tramway heading toward Montgomery, in the left lane, and some guy in a large truck stayed right on my bumper. I pumped the brakes at the red lights so he’d know I was aware of him and to try and get him to back off. He didn’t. He just stayed right there until he finally turned left, flipping me off as he passed. … If I had of gotten in the right-hand lane and out of his way, he’d just be behind another car.”
In the right lane we have Tom, who says via email, “We were passengers in a car with a friend whose husband was driving while in France and Italy. … I noticed there were two or three cars in back of him riding his bumper. As they passed they would give a fist pump or the “bird.” I suggested he speed it up and actually pass or we would get run off the road. He got the hint. European drivers consider it rude to hog the passing lane.
“Years ago you could use cruise control from Santa Fe to Albuquerque; not anymore.”
TRAFFIC DEATHS UP IN 2014: That’s compared to 2013, according to data from the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Bureau and the University of New Mexico.
In 2014, 364 people were killed on N.M. roads; in 2013 that total was 311.
Last year, 238 deaths were in vehicles – 31 of them in semis. Forty-four were on motorcycles, nine were on all-terrain vehicles, four were on bikes and 69 were pedestrians.
Alcohol was a factor in 146 of the deaths, or 40 percent. Just 63 of the vehicle occupants were buckled in, and just one motorcyclist was wearing a helmet.
In terms of age, 46 of the deaths were people under the age of 21; 33 were 65 or older.
And in terms of a county-by-county comparison, Bernalillo (the most populous and home to the state’s big east-west/north-south interchange) was the most dangerous, with 66 deaths. On the other end of the spectrum, De Baca had zero.
Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; email@example.com; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.