ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - When trash day arrives in one central Albuquerque neighborhood, residents have to remain on their toes.
"I don't want to get run over crossing the street," said Tamara Righetini, a resident of the Country Club Neighborhood near downtown. "(It's) really, really fast – like haulin' butt through the neighborhood."
She's talking about the driver of a 30-ton city of Albuquerque recycling truck, which News 13 tracked for a month. We caught him barreling down residential streets, ignoring traffic laws and endangering pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers.
"We just hear him zoom by really quick in the morning," said Beth Chavez, another neighborhood resident.
For example, on May 25, our cameras recorded him turning the wrong way from Park Avenue onto Silver Avenue Sw, a small one-way street. The driver could have legally made the turn just one block away.
On June 1, we caught him swinging out wide into the oncoming traffic lane in order to make an illegal right turn from Alcalde Place SW on to San Patricio Avenue. No-right-turn signs clearly show his turn was not allowed.
Later that same day, News 13 caught the driver making the exact same illegal turn, this time from Alcalde Place on to Escalante Avenue. And during that turn, a bicyclist heading in the opposite direction has to slow down to avoid running into the recycling truck, which had to steer into the oncoming lane in order to make the illegal turn.
Then on June 8, the city driver headed the wrong way down a one-way section of Alcalde Place. During that turn, he came flying into the neighborhood taking a chance that a car wouldn't be coming around the corner.
News 13 wanted to see what the driver had to say about his driving habits, so reporter Kim Holland caught up with him on his regular route through the neighborhood.
"We've got you going the wrong way several times coming in on Alcalde," Holland said. "How come you're going the wrong way on the streets?"
"You can call 311," the driver said with a smile before driving away. That number is for citizens to register complaints with the city or ask questions.
News 13 showed video of the violations to the driver's boss, city solid waste director John Soladay.
The majority of drivers for the city's 175 trash trucks operate them safely, Soladay said. He said he receives a couple hundred complains per year about them, which is relatively few considering the seven million miles per year they drive.
"All our trucks are GPS equipped, so we'll go back and look at the GPS track to confirm and take immediate action," he said.
Still, a month after we brought our concerns to Soladay, the same driver remains on the same route. The Solid Waste Department told News 13 it continues to investigate the situation.
In the meantime, neighborhood residents worry about their safety.
"That's a major, major traffic hazard," said Marilyn Lohn, one of those residents. "They're pretty big trucks."
A winter storm warning has been issued for Albuquerque and surrounding areas through 11 p.m. Thursday.
Tempers flared Wednesday night at the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education meeting as the firestorm over teacher evaluations and student testing continues.
An Albuquerque man says an emergency vet clinic turned away his dying dog because he didn't have enough cash in his pocket to pay to save him. The dog later died.
Closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday in the final sentencing phase of John McCluskey's federal murder trial. The same jury that convicted him of killing an Oklahoma couple, must now decide whether McCluskey should face the death penalty.
Meeting 211 goes to the University of New Mexico Lobos. The Lobos and New Mexico State renewed their rivalry on a basketball court Wednesday night with the Lobos winning 79 to 70.
MMA fighter Holly Holm has more than a fight to talk about this week. Holm also has a major sponsor in her corner.