City studies traffic at deadly crosswalk near The Pit

On Special Assignment

It was the scene of a deadly crash that killed a Lobo fan crossing the street.

After a widow’s call for action, the city now says it’s taking a closer look at the crosswalk outside The Pit where he was killed.

Jay White, 74, never made it home to his wife on Nov. 14, 2016 after leaving a Lobo basketball game a little early.

“He was an amazing human being,” Kae White said of her late husband. “As a human being, as a husband, as a father, a grandfather, a friend.”

She said her husband’s death could have been prevented.

“Why am I suffering? Because somebody was negligent?!” Kae said.

The deadly crash took place at the crosswalk on Avenida Cesar Chavez and Bradbury, just west of University.

The police report noted Jay used the crosswalk like he was supposed to and it claimed the driver wasn’t to blame either, stating she made “no driver error.”

However, the report also shows that it was dark out, the city didn’t have traffic signals at the crossing and crime scene photos focused on the faded stripes of the crosswalk.

It is something then-Athletic Director Paul Krebs even noticed.

In an email two weeks before the deadly crash, Krebs reminded Senior Associate AD for Facilities Scott Dotson to ask the city to repaint the crosswalk and put up signs with flashing lights so it’s easier to see.

However, those changes didn’t happen until after Jay was killed. 

Kae has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the University of New Mexico and the city

“When you immediately after somebody gets killed, you’re making these improvements, for me, that sends up a red flag,” Kae said. “You know, like, where were you?”

To this day, she’s concerned about safety because the city never did a traffic study before putting the crosswalk there in 2010.

Emails obtained by News 13 reveal a city traffic engineer worried mid-block crosswalks, with no stop signs or traffic signals, are not safe enough and claimed the crosswalk at The Pit was installed over the objection of traffic engineers.

The new administration now says it is taking a closer look.

“We want to work with every community member, whether their family was involved in a tragedy or not to try to see if we can make sure something like that doesn’t happen to somebody else,” said Johnny Chandler, public information officer for the Albuquerque Department of Municipal Development. 

Chandler said the City paid about $21,000 for a study to analyze traffic, using data collected the night the Lobos played the Aggies at The Pit last month.

“We wanted to choose a game where there would be a larger crowd so we could get a very accurate count,” he said. “The study gets vehicle counts, it gets the number of pedestrians that come through. It also gets the times that they come through as well.” 

That information will help traffic engineers decide if the crosswalk still needs to be improved with new signals or signage to prevent another deadly crash.

The City said it is expecting a report from the traffic study by next month.

Then, it will work with UNM, the Isotopes and nearby residents to discuss potential improvements at the crosswalk.

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