Busy Albuquerque street set for big changes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – City leaders say they’re responding to neighbors in a mostly residential area.

“Really just wanting to feel they can walk their dog and feel safe,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton.

Girard is a busy Albuquerque street, but Councilor Benton doesn’t want it to feel that way. He says he and other councilors have been working for years to come up with a plan to slow traffic for residents.

“To make it safer for walking,” he said.

The solution is the Girard Complete Street Master Plan.

Benton says it’s mostly a re-striping project, but there are big changes that come along with the new paint.

The first portion of the project — Puerto Del Sol to Central — includes narrower lanes and the addition of bike lanes.

Yet, the real change comes from just south of Central to just past Lomas. There, it will go from two lanes in each direction, to just one.

“When you have two lanes the tendency for most drivers is to jockey for position, which increases speed,” Benton explained.

These modifications will also include what are called sharrows, where cyclists and drivers share the same lanes.

“I do like the bike lanes, the normal bike lanes. It makes a lot of sense. But there are too many people who can’t keep up with the flow of traffic,” said local Garrett Schmille.

Cyclists we spoke to aren’t keen on the idea, but neither is Benton.

“It’s not appealing. The preferred situation would be a dedicated bike lane, but we don’t always have the amount of right of way we need,” Benton said.

While some are optimistic about the changes, others worry about timing.

“There’s going to be a lot of congestion resulting from the ART project and with Girard going down to one lane, it’s just going to compound the problems around the University of New Mexico area,” said resident Kent Paterson.

Prep work has already begun. The real work and closures are set to start in the next few weeks.

The Girard makeover is set to cost just under $350,000 and wrap up by September.

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