ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It may not be what drivers want to hear, but many people who live along or near Zuni say it’s about time the road got a makeover.
The busy Albuquerque street has seen lots of speeding and deadly crashes, and now a new plan is in place in hopes of changing that by cutting traffic lanes.
The city’s new plan covers all three miles of Zuni Road, cutting down on driving lanes and adding more room for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Neighbors on Zuni Road have been saying people have been driving too fast in the area for years.
“It’s a lot of drivers going real fast,” said Larry Arnoldi, a nearby Zuni Road resident.
The three-mile east/west road is a magnet for drivers with a need for speed and subsequent crashes.
Many of those crashes have been right in the view of Arnoldi.
“The cars just jump right up over the curb, over the sidewalk, go right into the fencing,” said Arnoldi.
Arnoldi isn’t alone in his statements either. Nearby resident Verner Duus says the road doesn’t feel safe for pedestrians and bikers. He points to the sidewalks that are butted up right next to the driving lanes.
“Yeah it’s awfully close. The vehicle is right there within a yard or so,” said Duus.
That design in part is what some say helped lead to a 3-year-old girl’s death in 2010 when she walked off the sidewalk into the street.
However, the Zuni corridor is now set for a big overhaul. It comes just a few years after the city overhauled the Lead and Coal Avenue corridor between Broadway and Washington for about $36-million.
“After Lead and Coal were done, it was more obvious that we needed to address Zuni,” said Albuquerque city councilor Rey Garduño. “The whole reason is safety first.”
Garduño represents the district that Zuni Road runs through. He is referring to a big plan to change the road for drivers, pedestrian and bicyclists.
“It will be a complete redo of the area and the safety aspect of Zuni will be very noticeable,” said Garduño.
The plan would cut traffic lanes along Zuni starting at Washington and going all the way to where Zuni ends at the intersection of Central.
Between Washington and San Mateo, three lanes each way would turn into two lanes each way.
From San Mateo to Central, Zuni would become just one lane in each direction.
All of that extra space would mean bike lanes up and down Zuni, wider sidewalks and medians, and dedicated turn lanes at major intersections.
“It will slow it down, but the slowing down of the traffic doesn’t mean it will not handle as many car,” said Garduño.
Garduño says the proposed changes will only bring a safer road and so far, many residents are hopeful.
“It’s definitely a good proposal to be considered,” said Arnoldi.
If the proposal is approved, the city says it has about $5.6 million to redo Zuni. Councilor Garduño says crews could start the project in the next year to 18 months.
The city is putting the Zuni proposal up for public comment at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, at the Highland High School Performing Arts Center.