It’s already one of the most backed up stretches for commuters in New Mexico. Now, the state is adding more signals on highway 550 in Bernalillo and drivers want to know why.
Signal after signal after signal can be seen within a quarter mile.
“When they turned the lights on by Santa Ana Star Casino, it’s just stopped,” said John Walden, Rio Rancho resident. “The traffic has just stopped.”
Tens of thousands of cars drive along US 550 every single day and drivers are saying the new traffic signals are causing a delay in their morning commute.
There was always a stoplight at the entrance to the casino parking lot. Now, just down the hill, there is a new signal outside the Santa Ana’s new hotel and another outside of their gas station just a few hundred feet west.
“Just a lot of back up with the traffic lights,” said Rio Rancho resident Michael Smith. “A lot of traffic, a lot of construction. It’s been like that for a while.”
“They are not synced up,” Walden explained. “The lights will turn green for less than 15 to 20 seconds and then two or three cars get through and it turns red again.”
While some Rio Rancho commuters are taking alternate routes to avoid the congestion, others say it’s just part of Bernalillo’s growth.
“I think it’s great for this area and just growing pains,” Smith said. “You have to get through the difficulty and eventually it’ll be a lot better.”
The state Department of Transportation says it is aware of the congestion and is working to correct it.
“We activated our signal last Wednesday and it kind of caused a lot of back up,” Kimberly Gallegos with NM DOT said. “We are trying to get the signal times correct and we been doing a lot of work out there to make sure that we get that done so that we can get people where they need to go in a faster manner.”
The DOT says the new signals are part of a “super street concept” that will result in faster commute times in the end. The state is redoing 550 all the way through Bernalillo.