City building curb between ART lanes to stop illegal left turns

More orange barrels are up along Central Avenue. This time, it’s for a construction project meant to stop illegal left turns across ART lanes in one of the busiest areas of the city.

“It is going to be more congestion, more backed up. I think more road rage,” said Donna Padilla, the general manager of Monte Carlo Steakhouse.

Padilla says she sees a lot of drivers doing whatever they can to get around the traffic on Central near Atrisco, including short cuts through her parking lot—even watching drivers make illegal left-hand turns through the ART lanes.

“These are how many cars are going through my parking lot,” said Padilla. “Everybody is because I mean, they’re open lanes so we are using the lanes,” said Padilla.

The city realizes illegal left’s are a big problem in this area.

“When we were doing the bus training for ART bus drivers, we noticed a phenomenon that was happening on the west side there,” said Bernie Toon, the Transit Director for the City of Albuquerque.

There were two accidents during bus training. Both of them happened on Central near Atrisco and both were because of illegal left-hand turns.

“People were making a lot of illegal left turns,” said Toon.

The city says adding ‘pin curbs’ on the center line on Central between Atrisco and Sunset will help prevent accidents like that.

“We’re putting it in as a safety measure, we’ve found that it’s a measure that works,” said Toon.

Even though the ART buses won’t be on the road until at least next year, Toon says this is part of getting drivers ready.

“In the not too distant future, we’ll have big, 60-foot buses running right to their left. So, if they try to make an illegal left turn they’ll be putting themselves really at risk,” said Toon.

But still, for Central Ave. commuters, this is just another project in a seemingly never-ending headache.

“Every year it’s just a fiasco and it’s getting even worse,” said Padilla.

There are currently no plans to add this type of median curb to anywhere else along the ART corridor, but the city said that could change.

The curb cost about $32,000.

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