Rio Grande Boulevard Complete Street Test Project
UPDATES: December 2, 2016 - The striping has been completed, and signage and pavement markings (bike symbols, turn/through symbols, etc.) are expected to be installed next week.
3-lane Test Project
As a project separate but related to Rio Grande and Candelaria Roundabout and with a combination of District 2 set-aside and State capital funding, Councilor Benton has requested that the City proceed with design of a Complete Street test project on Rio Grande Boulevard north of Matthew Avenue.
The project consists of a lane reduction re-striping of Rio Grande to a three-lane configuration (one lane in each direction with a center turn lane) from Matthew Avenue to Griegos, where it already becomes a 2-lane facility. Data will be collected before and after the re-striping in order to help gauge its effectiveness. In addition to the traffic calming benefits of a 3-lane configuration, one lane in each direction entering and leaving three sides of the roundabout will additionally simplify the functions of the intersection.
Over a set period of time before and after the construction of the roundabout, the City will analyze the operation of the 3-lane test section. If it is functioning well, as Councilor Benton fully expects it to, the City will design permanent improvements to the public right of way between Matthew Avenue and Griegos.
FAQ’s and answers from Councilor Benton:
- How will the projects impact development and preservation of character along the Rio Grande Boulevard corridor? The two projects have nothing to do with land development and are not associated with the corridor plan draft that was previously proposed. These projects are public right of way improvement projects. I strongly support preserving and protecting the agricultural character of the corridor, which was greatly compromised when the existing grossly-oversized roadway was built. It’s ironic that “preservation” to some seems to mean not fixing a poorly-planned, unnecessary, destructive and aggressive 1950’s road widening that is posted for 35 mph but designed for 55 mph. The corridor was actually preserved north of Griegos when this monstrosity was built.
- What about the impact on commuters? Commuters from Los Ranchos and Corrales live in villages where such oversized roads were not allowed. I think they will understand why traffic calming is needed when arterials go through residential areas. They will also find that although their vehicle speeds may be reduced to the posted speed, they will move continuously and efficiently through the corridor and will not choose alternate routes. The corridor will remain a legitimate commuter route.
- Why are improvements for pedestrians and cyclists being proposed? It was said that “few pedestrians use Rio Grande or are likely to do so.” It is self-evident that no one would choose to walk in a substandard, threatening and unsafe pedestrian environment. At the same time, Rio Grande is the only continuous option for pedestrians (and bicyclists) to move north-south through the area. We have witnessed increased pedestrian use on Central Avenue after the 5 lanes there were converted to 3, and that is without yet having the future sidewalk improvements and trees in place.
- How will this affect the ability to move horse trailers through the area? The 3-lane section will improve safety for horses crossing Rio Grande north of Candelaria. Horse owners north of Griegos enjoy the tranquility of their 2-lane Rio Grande Blvd. Do they want to deny that to other residents and horse owners? The roundabout is designed to accommodate trailers of all kinds.
- Will street trees be included in the project? Will property owners be required to plant street trees? Property owners should be encouraged (but not required) to plant a variety of appropriate trees in future available space within curbside planting areas and the City could assist them in doing so in exchange for them taking responsibility for tree watering. (For more information about a successful neighborhood effort, read about the Huning Highland Street Tree Project.)
- Couldn’t law enforcement address speeding along the corridor? There will always be scofflaws. Our police department is currently understaffed and does not have the capacity for continuous targeted traffic enforcement. Periodic enforcement will continue, but modern speed enforcement utilizes roadway geometry to calm traffic.
- The corridor is full of dead end streets. Will a lane reduction affect the ability to get in and out of these streets? That is the reason the existing and proposed corridor has center turn lanes. It is much safer to merge and turn into traffic that is not speeding.