ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The short stretch of road next to Interstate 25 in Albuquerque is so poorly designed, it practically encourages drivers to break the law.
Yet, until News 13’s Larry Barker began asking questions about it, not a single governmental official would take responsibility for the problem, preferring to ignore the daily parade of drivers heading the wrong way down a one-way street.
“Certainly an accident could occur at any time, and it’s something that we need to correct,” said David Harris, UNM vice president.
To the casual observer, the one-way portion of Camino de Salud near the New Mexico State Scientific Laboratory – just south of Indian School Road NE next to the northbound I-25 Frontage Road – is not particularly noteworthy. But take a closer look and you’ll find dozens of motorists driving the wrong way down the road every day in order to quickly access the interstate.
“I have to say I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Jerry Hall, a retired UNM professor of civil engineering. “You have a street that people are not necessarily encouraged – but do – go the wrong way. That’s dangerous.”
The street was built two years ago, initially as a two-way street, to serve the then-newly built scientific lab building. The state’s General Services Department designed the road, but the state Department of Transportation raised safety concerns about it, so GSD was forced to close off access from the lab to the Frontage Road.
GSD placed barricades blocking that side of the road and erected one-way signs. But ever since, drivers have disregarded the one-way designation, preferring to exchange a quick chance at a traffic ticket for an even-quicker entrance to I-25.
News 13 went looking for someone – anyone – to take responsibility for the problem and encountered some world-class finger-pointing.
Despite the fact that his agency designed and built the road, Chuck Gara, the GSD’s head of property control, denied that his agency created the problem.
“The wrong way drivers created this situation,” he said, adding that he wasn’t at the agency when the road was constructed.
Next up, it was the Department of Transportation’s turn to deny responsibility.
“No sir, I do not believe” DOT is responsible, said Tom Church, cabinet secretary. “I permitted the roadway in 2007. The rest of it, I’m not responsible for. The developers and planners that built the road (are responsible).”
Church did, however, agree that someone needs to come up with a solution.
“This needs to be cleared up because the access to the frontage road is not being used as originally intended,” he said.
Well, how about the City of Albuquerque?
“(T)hat roadway is on UNM’s property,” said Michael Riordan, the city’s director of municipal development. “So, in no way, is the city involved with that project.”
UNM Vice President Harris accepted partial responsibility.
“Well, in selling the land to the State of New Mexico, I think you could say that we were certainly a partner,” he said.
So, finally, UNM stepped up to play the heavy, directing campus police to watch out for scofflaw drivers.
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