NMDOT explains why dangerous off-ramp improvements stalled

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a dangerous area for drivers that’s cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Department of Transportation has been trying to fix it for years, but so far nothing’s changed.

“It just makes me want to avoid this area, try to drive around its side streets as much as I can,” says Danny Williams.

Drivers say this area is known for congestion and a lot of close-calls at this off-ramp.

“We hear horns honking and trucks, but we hear horns honking all day long, all day long,” says Janette Wiggins.

Drivers say the problems start well before you get to the stoplight at Oak and MLK along I-25.

“The people that go through the stop sign that don’t stop, they always interfere with the people that are getting off the freeway,” Wiggins says. “And the people getting off the freeway are going very fast because they are getting off the freeway.”

Just up the road from that off-ramp, “It’s always a mess. I mean there are too many people trying to merge into this intersection,” Williams says.

It’s not just an inconvenience, but a safety concern. In 2013, a 6-year-old boy on a bike was severely injured in the intersection. An SUV that was hit by a car rolled on top of him. The family filed a lawsuit and the city paid out $250,000.

After the accident, the New Mexico Department of Transportation did a road safety audit and came up with a solution: getting rid of the northbound MLK off-ramp altogether.

“What it would do, it eliminates the off-ramp at I-25 northbound at MLK, ” says NMDOT spokesperson Kimberly Gallegos. “We would actually relocate the off-ramp to Lead and Coal off-ramp off of I-25 going northbound.”

The plan was to get the project started this year, but it would cost $2 million. That’s money the DOT says it doesn’t have right now. They’re hoping to start in 2021 instead.

“We’re always looking. Safety is our number one priority, and we’re always looking for ways to improve that,” Gallegos says.

This isn’t the only area south of the Big-I the state wants to fix. The DOT also plans to straighten out the s-curve on I-25 between Coal and Avenida Cesar Chavez.

The Department of Transportation was also named in the lawsuit after the 6-year-old boy was hurt, but it’s unclear how much the state paid the family.

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