City adding new lights, curb, median, guard rail to crash-prone Westside roadway

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M (KRQE) – A victory for some Albuquerque neighbors who’ve been dealing with speeding drivers and dangerous car crashes.

After years of complaints, the city says it’s about to take aggressive measures to slow drivers down in a Westside neighborhood near Unser and Sage.

The incoming changes target 86th Street at the intersection of Sapphire Road. A little more than a year ago, neighbors were asking the city to install a guard rail along 86th Street to keep drivers from flying off the road and into their property.

The city now says it will install a guard rail along with additional road safety measures.

“Residents, I think, have been dealing with this for years and years,” said Kevin Sourisseau, a deputy director for the Albuquerque Department of Municipal Development. “We know we can’t stand by and simply do nothing.”

Some of those crashes were plainly evident along 86th Street on Wednesday afternoon, including tire tracks through gravel, car parts in the median, a doubled-over signpost, and a broken curb.

“It is actually a little scary,” said Alissa, a neighbor who lives near 86th and Sapphire. “When I moved here it was good, but now it’s really crazy.”

Alissa’s home lost a tree after a crash, while other neighbors have had multiple fences destroyed. The nearby hazard is enough for parents to keep their kids from playing anywhere near the front yard.

“I don’t let (my kids) play out front because I am scared of how the cars pass,” Alissa said.

The city is now preparing to deploy a series of changes on 86th Street with the goal of slowing drivers to a safer neighborhood speed.

“We’ve already added two streetlights that will illuminate that curve a little better,” Sourisseau said. “If you’re traveling that at night, you’re unfamiliar with it, or you are familiar with it and it’s a dark night, you should be able to navigate that curve a little better.”

Along with new lights, the city’s also planning to extend the median north along 86th Street and add a metal guard rail between the driving lanes.

“Hopefully prevent traffic from crossing over in the case of an accident, or an out of control speeder crossing over in oncoming traffic,” Sourisseau said.

Some of the roadway work has already happened along 86th Street, including the addition of a concrete pad or “bulb out,” which juts out into the roadway. The extra concrete is designed to slow drivers down, however, tire marks clearly show at least one driver has already crashed there.

Ultimately though, some neighbors think in time the changes will help.

“Anything to make it safer,” Alissa said.

The city is also planning to fix up some of the damaged curbs and driveways as a part of the $106,000 project. The money to pay for the project is coming from the city’s quarter-cent transportation tax. The city hopes to complete the work in February or March.

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