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Passport needed, not to visit NM, but to drink here


There’s a lot of controversy around New Mexico’s driver’s licenses and their lack of compliance with federal REAL ID requirements. But there’s also a lot of controversy around the fact that folks who sell alcohol rely heavily on those licenses before making a sale.

A recent example comes from Pam Parker, who emails “my 29-year-old daughter-in-law could not buy a sangria with dinner at (a local New Mexican restaurant on a) Friday night because South Carolina issues vertical driver’s licenses. (New Mexico issues vertical license to those under the legal drinking age of 21). They also refused a Texas license at another table. Their solution? Bring a passport. Really. With people coming from all over the world for Balloon Fiesta, you would think establishments would make an effort to read the dates on out-of-state licenses rather than refuse them all.”

State law says carding is to ensure the purchaser is at least 21, but a restaurateur has explained in this column that “servers are just being extra careful as they don’t want to go to jail for serving someone who shouldn’t be served.”

A LITTLE MPH GUIDANCE ON THE PDN MERGE, PLEASE: William King emails he drives “west on Paseo del Norte from the east side of Interstate 25 (and merges with north-to-west) traffic just after the flyover ends. One would think that at this point traffic would still be at 40 mph – this is the posted speed limit – after all it is a very short distance from the end of the flyover to the merging point. My guess is that the traffic at this point is traveling at least 55 mph, if not 60 mph or more.”

William says that’s a concern, since “PdN westbound at this point has a 45 mph speed limit and merging into this fast moving traffic with a short entry ramp is close to suicide.” So he drove the north-to-west route, “looking for speed limit signs. As far as I can tell there is one set of signs, 40 mph, as one enters the flyover and no other signs until after the railroad tracks, and this sign is the 60 mph one that has been there since before the construction.”

William suggests adding “signs at the foot of the flyover that say 45 mph – this matches with the PdN merging speed limit – and another set of signs, around the Jefferson overpass, that say 55 mph or 60 mph. I do understand that speed-limit signs in Albuquerque are nothing more than window dressing, but maybe, just maybe, a set of signs giving drivers an idea as to what is considered a safe speed in the area would give us, PdN westbound travelers, a fighting chance to live another day.”

Bernadette Bell, public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s District Three Office, is checking to “see if posting additional signs is a possibility.”

EDITH SIGNALS AREN’T IN SYNCH: Mark Turkovich says in a recent email that on some major city streets, like Edith between Osuna and Candelaria, “if I drive the speed limit – 35 mph – I hit red lights throughout my journey; however, cars passing me at about 5-10 miles an hour faster than the speed limit make the lights green. It is almost as if drivers are being trained to speed to make the green lights.”

He asks if the city can “program the lights to allow those who drive near the speed limits (to) make the green lights and therefore encourage more compliance with the speed limits of this city? It would make the streets safer; have cars idling less and lower driver stress levels.”

Melanie Martinez, program manager and public information officer for Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development, explains with regard to Edith “in order to allow for traffic during heavy travel times, other intersections such as Montaño control the traffic patterns. For that reason, this corridor is not synchronized.”

BACKED UP OR NOT BACKED UP ON COPPER: John says “the lights and turn lanes on Juan Tabo and Copper Avenue are horrible. As anyone who ever had to sit on Copper in the morning and wait almost 3 minutes for the light to change will tell you, it is too long. To make matters worse is the very tight turn from northbound Juan Tabo to eastbound Copper. Whoever approved putting a Starbucks coffee in the Hobby Lobby parking lot clearly does not live anywhere near that intersection, otherwise they would have fixed the timing problem and the turning in and out of that section of road.”

And so John asks in his email “is there anything the city can do to fix the timing and clearly make fresh lines for the turning lane on Copper to be at least back from the end of the road so cars and trucks can make the turn from Juan Tabo to Copper?”

Martinez says “traffic was observed at the intersection of Juan Tabo and Copper during both morning and evening peak hours. The detection and signal timing are operating as programmed and no backups or detection issues were observed.”

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.