Damage from dangerous drivers costing taxpayers


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Charles Garcia has seen it far too often near where he lives off of Lead Avenue.

“It is scary, especially in the mornings and afternoons during rush hour,” Garcia said. “People drive too fast coming down Lead.”

The latest evidence of that: a wreck over the weekend that knocked down trees and a light pole at the intersection of Lead and Yale.

“We’ve had a lot of accidents here at this intersection because people just drive too fast or they’re on their smartphones talking and not paying attention,” Garcia said. “The first thing they’re going to hit are these light boxes and trees.”

That same weekend, another car rolled onto its side nearby at Coal and Oak. Last year, a red light runner smashed a city bus into a home at the corner of Coal and Girard.

“Coal and Lead Avenues are kind of a hot spot,” said Marco Holloway with Albuquerque’s Clean Cities Division, which handles maintenance of medians and landscaping near sidewalks in the city.

It’s not the only one. The median on Coors just south of Central has had frequent issues with driving damage too.

“One time they got on there and went about 200 to 300 feet up that median knocking down stuff,” Holloway said.

The damage Clean Cities crews are called out to clean up can range from raking up gravel to replacing trees. A lot of it happens on weekends.

“The majority of it is errant drivers either due to alcohol or drugs or probably more likely than that cell phone usage,” Holloway said. “You see a lot of that out there.”

For just the Clean Cities side of things, that damage from drivers has led to around $100,000 in costs over the past two years. The city’s Department of Municipal Development also has to repair traffic signals that are slammed into by drivers. The total cost to repair those signals is around $500,000 a year, although the city couldn’t specify how much of that cost was as a result of drivers damaging lights.

The city says the best way to report damaged city landscaping or signals is to call 3-1-1 or use the app, saying they can’t fix it if they don’t know about it.

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