West side neighborhood finally gets stop sign relief

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After years of wading through bureaucratic red tape, the city finally made good on one west side neighborhood’s request to stop speeding drivers. 

But what took so long? And are the changes working? 

The changes recently took place along 86th Street through the Westgate Heights neighborhood, near Truman Middle School. 

Some neighbors say they’re “elated” with what the city did, adding two stop signs at the notorious intersection of 86th Street and Camino San Martin. 

“It’s safer for people to back out of the driveways, the children, it’s just a win win,” said Phil Candelaria who lives along 86th Street. 

For years, neighbors like Candelaria have worried about people walking across 86th Street, which used to allow through traffic without a stop. 

“We’re surrounded by elementary schools and it’s their safety, as well as the safety of the children of the neighborhood,” said Candelaria. 

At the corner of 86th Street, Daniel Johnson has heard drivers speed by over and over again. Johnson has lived in the same home since he was in middle school. 

“You’d see people flying by at 45-50 miles an hour,” said Johnson. “I have a nine-year-old that I refuse to let play in the front yard.” 

The two additional stop signs now make 86th and San Martin a four-way-stop. Both Johnson and Candelaria say the signs have helped slow people down and make the neighborhood safer. 

But Candelaria knows that it wasn’t easy to get the stop signs installed. 

“We ran into so much opposition,” said Candelaria. 

For nearly three years, the neighborhood’s request languished in the city’s “Neighborhood Traffic Management Program,” or NMTP. The program, which was supposed to formalize and streamline traffic calming projects also requires pricey studies before any road changes can be done. 

“For these small little project, they’re like $10,000 to $15,000 to get them accomplished,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Peña of the NMTP’s requirements. 

Peña says the Keller administration instead chose to install signs immediately after a conversation. Peña says she’s hopeful the city will work faster on future traffic calming requests. 

“It makes all the difference, people feel pride and feel they’re taking back their community,” said Peña. 

Peña says she paid for the installation of the signs out of her special projects or “council set-aside” fund, something each city councilor gets every two-years. 

The city is still using the “Neighborhood Traffic Management Program” for any traffic calming requests, but the funds for projects are limited to just about $800,000 for the whole city for the next two years. 

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