Latest Update on Proposed Roundabout at Rio Grande and Candelaria.
Thank you to all that completed the survey asking your opinion on whether the City should proceed with the proposed Roundabout at Rio Grande & Candelaria. Your comments on both sides of the issue were very helpful and provided me with insight.
Shortly after my appointment to the District 2 City Council seat, I was overwhelmed with feedback against the proposed Roundabout at the Intersection of Rio Grande Blvd. and Candelaria. I began meeting with Council staff and the Dept. of Municipal Development (DMD) to understand the Roundabout’s history, original justification and public involvement-see summary table below.
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Because of public efforts to make the City aware of Intersection concerns, the City, in 2006-2007 installed a left turn lane on Candelaria where it meets Rio Grande Blvd. In 2008 Speed Radar Detection Signs were installed and the striping was refreshed.
The Intersection’s Severity Index and Collision Rate show a 37% and 23% improvement, respectively, since the 2004-2006 statistics. The Severity Index for the Intersection for the last five year average is .29, in line with the City average of .28. The Intersection’s Collision Rate also came down from 1.61 to 1.24 (as the last five year average-2011 alone was 1.33), below the national average of 2.00. In addition, a recent speed study showed a reduction in average speed of 2 to 3 miles per hour (from the 2008 Parsons Brinckerhoff study).
DMD provided me with a list of meetings held on the Roundabout including sign in sheets and any written comments. There was a four day Charette held in July 2010 to discuss updating the existing 1989 Rio Grande Corridor Plan, not the specific Roundabout (several intersections were discussed). Approximately 150 people attended the Charette over the four day period and there is no written documentation of opinions regarding a specific roundabout at Rio Grande & Candelaria. Attendance was low at all Roundabout/Intersection specific meetings until September 27, 2012 when media attention resulted in 274 attending. Yet still only 79 written opinions on the Roundabout were documented from that meeting.
Conversely, the response to the online Roundabout survey was overwhelming. There were 1,190 responses (after culling 7 duplicates and 13 anonymous responses), 1,106 of which answered by the deadline of 2/18/13. On March 1, 2013 I met with leaders representing both sides to review the actual responses. In summary 60% (662 of the 1,106) of the respondents do not support the proposed Roundabout.
I disagree with the assertion that this survey is somehow irrelevant or unscientific. I would argue that by the sheer volume of respondents, the survey was much more representative of the opinions of those that use the Intersection than previously gathered written opinions. I think in today’s society a new dawn of transparency and access has been brought to the public that allows them to weigh in on important issues.
At this coming City Council Meeting on April 1st, the Council will consider a resolution I am sponsoring (R-13-163) which saves $1,065,350, currently committed to this Roundabout, for other infrastructure projects. My resolution also restores $300,000 in badly needed 2011 Capital Improvement Project funding for the reconstruction of major intersections citywide and retains $200,000 for any additional safety improvements that the Dept. of Municipal Development deems appropriate for the Rio Grande & Candelaria Intersection. That night, the Council will also consider a resolution sponsored by Councilor Isaac Benton (R-13-161) that asks the Mid-Region Council of Governments to move the funding timeline on the Roundabout to the federal fiscal year 2014.
The Intersection statistics and the public opinion will not change after the October election (which is in the federal fiscal year 2014), so I see no benefit in delaying the decision. There are alternatives to the Roundabout that are effective, less expensive, and much less controversial. I know that there are many who will be disappointed if the Roundabout is not built, but understand that I am committed to work on safety and speeding issues we have throughout the District. I also appreciate the time and effort that everyone has put in to making this a better community—no matter what side of the issue you are on. Unfortunately this issue has become very divisive and many felt left out of the process. As I move forward in this position, I am committed to transparency and access to information. All documentation mentioned above will be posted on the City’s website as soon as possible under http://www.cabq.gov/council/projects/current-projects/rio-grande-and-candelaria-roundabout.
Best, Roxanna Meyers, Councilor District 2