ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Drivers say construction on I-40 is not only inconvenient—they’re calling it dangerous, too. Many say they find themselves dodging semis, concrete walls, and orange barrels daily.
The paving project runs between Carnuel and Tijeras on I-40. The $8.1 million project has been going on for about a month, and drivers say almost every day there’s been some sort of hazard.
“I’ve witnessed three semi-to-semi accidents where they basically scraped at the sides of each other while they were driving down the freeway, as well as two other accidents involving vehicles and a vehicle and a semi,” says Daniel Stewart, who commutes through the work zone every week.
He is one of the many who travel the area and voiced their concerns to the Department of Transportation (DOT) after witnessing how dangerous the stretch through the canyon has become lately.
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Stewart says he’s had a few close calls with semi-trucks, people speeding through the work zone, and construction vehicles pulling in and out of traffic. A spokesperson for the DOT says they’ve heard the public’s concerns and are working to make the area safer.
“The speed limit has now been lowered from 55 mph in the work zone to 45 mph,” says Kimberly Gallegos, public information officer for District 3 for the New Mexico DOT. “We’ve also worked with law enforcement to have more presence in the work zones,” Gallegos says.
Additionally, Gallegos says they’re working with the contractor on the project to make sure the construction vehicles find a better way to get their materials in and out of the work zone without endangering drivers traveling through the area. Stewart says the DOT responded to his concerns, and he says these fixes are a start.
However, he says the lanes are still too narrow to accommodate all the semis and car traffic, and he says the on-ramps are too short. A spokesperson for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office says they’ve responded to about 40 crashes in the construction zone since the project began earlier this month. The main causes are drivers not paying attention and going too fast.
The DOT says they’ve also reached out to the National Trucker’s Association to encourage semi-drivers to slow down in the work zone. Gallegos says the paving portion of this project should be complete by mid-to-late summer.