ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been six months since the city of Albuquerque replaced more than a half a dozen traffic signals with four-way stops, but it still has to pay nearly $20,000 to see if the change has been effective.
The nine intersections are in downtown Albuquerque. Eight of the intersections used to have traffic signals. The city converted the last one, at Second Street and Silver, from a two-way stop for a four-way stop.
According to the city, it has seen some improvements in traffic flow now that the intersections have become four-way stops, but not everyone agrees.
When the city made the change it said it hoped to achieve four things: make the intersections more pedestrian friendly, slow down traffic, cut down on crashes and reduce wait times.
Yet, KRQE News 13 cameras have caught backups at the stop signs at Eighth and Lead during rush hour.
The city admits some of the congestion could be caused by construction for the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit project happening on Central Avenue. The city said a lot of drivers are using alternate routes like Lead and Coal.
Some businesses in the downtown area said all the changes have been nothing but a headache.
“These drivers don’t stop. They’re used to a light and they’re not used to stopping without a light, so it’s a big safety issue,” Deborah Davis said.
Davis isn’t alone. Other businesses along Roma near Fifth Street said they feel the traffic lights created more organization.
However, some pedestrians who spoke to KRQE News 13 find the four-way stops more convenient.
“Lights are better for cars and stop signs are better for bikes,” Antonio Marquez said.
Five of the conversions happened along Silver Avenue. Since October, Albuquerque Police said officers have responded to 10 crashes at Second Street and Silver.
The city said it has been monitoring traffic flow at the intersections for the last six months, but the study is only beginning.
“Right now it seems to be fairly effective, but we’re going to wait and see what the study tells us,” Keith Reed said.
Reed is the Acting Deputy Director for the city’s Department of Municipal Development.
“At first, there was curiosity as to why we converted the signals to four-way stops and there were a few complaints about it, but since then we haven’t had much feedback from the public,” he said.
The study will cost the city nearly $20,000 and help determine if the four-way stops should stay or go. The city also paid $17,000 for the initial study that recommended turning all nine intersections into four-way stops.
According to Reed, the study should be completed over the next two to three months, and that’s when the city plans to make a decision on each individual intersection.