ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Dangerous driving at a key intersection near Old Town is pushing city officials to make some changes. The intersection at Central Avenue and Lomas Boulevard was rebuilt for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project, but the area has become a hub for speeding, resulting in car crashes.
For the fifth time this year, the fence at a nearby school, the San Felipe de Neri Catholic School, was hit by a car, costing $2,500 in damage. The school’s principal, Cheryl Robertson, is worried about safety, as the fence is there to separate students on the playground from traffic. “It’s extremely scary. If it happens during the day, there are children there, and it would be devastating to our community.”
Robertson explains that the intersection went from being four lanes with a gentle curve to six lanes with a sharp curve during the construction of ART. “I think some of that has precipitated people missing the curve and flying up a curb and through our fence,” says Robertson.
While the curve went in around 2017, drivers have seemingly gotten used to whipping fast through the intersection. The city is trying a variety of techniques to slow down traffic and make the intersection safer.
In an attempt to limit speeding in the area, the city has added big rocks and a sign in front of the school fence, as well as plastic poles. The poles funnel westbound left-turn traffic into one lane ahead of the sharp curve on Central. Dan Mayfield with the Municipal Development Department says, “We pinched the lanes a little bit to remind people to just slow down. Especially when you’re approaching the sharp curve like this.”
The poles aren’t the only addition. The city has also added more rumble strips and a new hanging light that acts as a warning light before the intersection. City traffic engineers are also planning to add a speed-radar sign at the intersection and more red-light time between cycles.
While the school hopes it works, they also want to see more done. “They’re going to blow through anyway. They are still going to end up in our playground unless there’s larger barricades,” says Robertson.
So far, the city thinks the narrow path shouldn’t put too much of a squeeze on rush hour traffic; the project is costing over $14,000 dollars.