ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – More than 90,000 people visit McCall’s Pumpkin Patch each Fall. On the way there, a lot of them make a common mistake on I-40 and it’s led to crashes.
One driver says it’s the state’s fault and is filing a lawsuit against the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
“The locals pass by it cause we know, it’s not a good place to cross,” said Debbie Goss.
Locals see it all the time, drivers using an official use only crossover near the Moriarty exit.
“That crossover is dangerous,” said Goss who owns the Chili Hills II restaurant just off the Moriarty exit. She said many drivers take the crossover because they took the wrong exit to get to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch.
“They get off at the wrong exit and then they make a U-turn, and they get back on the freeway and realize ‘ohhh this isn’t the right way,'” said Goss.
She said the next option is to get back on I-40 headed west for eight miles until the Edgewood exit. So most people opt for the risky crossover. Deputies said that’s exactly what happened before a bad wreck happened on October 20.
They said a female driver took the wrong exit on I-40 while heading to the pumpkin patch. When she looped back onto the interstate heading westbound, she quickly cut two lanes of traffic to get to the crossover; James Walker’s semi truck hit her.
“He was drug approximately 70 to 90 feet with his hand out the window,” said the Michigan truck drivers attorney, Robert Gentile.
Gentile said NMDOT could have prevented this crash and many others by keeping drivers from illegally crossing over.
“Those crossovers are supposed to be for official use only, they’re supposed to be for police officers, but this very first one you encounter, doesn’t have that type of marking,” said Gentile.
KRQE News 13 only noticed one sign several feet away from the crossover that says ‘keep off median’, but about a half a mile down, another crossover is covered with signage warning drivers not to enter.
Locals like Goss agree, more could be done.
“I don’t think that there’s enough signs,” Goss said.
A spokesperson for NMDOT said they cannot comment on lawsuits but said safety is their first priority and they will always listen to drivers concerns.