APS, parents seek traffic tweaks at busy school

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – There is a major traffic mess at an Albuquerque high school and parents and students are fed up. They say it’s taking them half an hour to pick up and drop off their kids. Tuesday, they met with the district and local leaders to put an end to it.

“You have the largest high school in New Mexico here,” Senator Michael Padilla said, looking down from Sky News 13. ”There’s only one entrance in and one entrance out.”

Senator Michael Padilla says that’s not a good thing.

“You’re looking at about a 25 to 30 minute wait to get on the property and in some cases, another 25 or 30 to get off the property.”

Atrisco High Academy in southwest Albuquerque is home to more than 2,400 students

“Being a senior and driving, it is insane on how crazy the traffic is,” Monique Roscoe said.

That, coupled with a faculty of more than 250, and you get at least 1,000 cars coming and going in the morning and afternoon

It’s a bit of a mess.

“Parents, students, they’re coming up to me asking me what can we do about this, how can we help,” Jonathan Salazar, the school’s student body president said.

Principal Antonio Gonzales says it’s not only a safety issue but an education issue.

“The bottom line is we need to have our students inside the classroom learning and not worrying about traffic,” Gonzales said.

It spurred the school and Senator Padilla, who represents the district, to meet with the community, its leaders and the district.

“This is an urgent matter and we need to look at some immediate fixes,” APS Board President Dr. Analee Maestas said.

They discussed funding, who could take on what challenges and heard from parents about the problem.

While the details on a long-term fix are ironed out, the school, the district and students all have some short-term ideas. They suggest putting school zone signs along Dennis Chavez. Right now, there are no signs and cars park along the busy road.

“I’m concerned also for my daughter and all the other kids,” Priscilla Montes said.

Also, they suggest taking advantage of an unpaved road on the east side of the school to help with the traffic headache by turning it into a second exit.

The city says it would cost at least $1 million to pave the road, but Dr. Maestas suggested doing the bare minimum to make the road drivable.

Regardless of what happens, Gonzales says traffic will be a part of life here.

“We do recognize that there is an inconvenience,” he said.

There will likely be even more traffic in the next year.

Going up just south of Atrisco Heritage is a K-8 school slated to open next fall. Officials say that will mean another 1,800 students in an already crowded spot.

The school says 70 percent of kids at Atrisco Heritage ride the bus, adding the rest of the students have that option.

There are other meetings planned on the traffic issue but there are no dates set yet.

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