ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The trek to the River of Lights is one of the biggest traffic nightmares in the city every year.
“The wait time has just been ridiculous because of the traffic,” Jayke Ingram of Albuquerque said.
The stretch on Central Avenue from Rio Grande to the river was made even worse now that Albuquerque Rapid Transit lanes and orange barriers have limited Central to one lane in each direction.
“How hard is it to come move some cones out of the way?” said Fred Gallegos of Albuquerque.
One driver wanting to avoid the bumper to bumper traffic last weekend made an illegal u-turn right in front of an ART bus, causing a crash.
The city knew the always congested River of Lights traffic was coming, but did not finish the construction work of installing 26 light poles along the stretch beforehand to open up the far right-hand lane.
The city blamed the construction moratorium in Old Town during the holidays last year.
“It’s taken from then until now to reconstruct the Central and Rio Grande intersection so that pushed everything,” ART Spokesperson Joanie Griffin stated.
The lane restrictions aren’t just a headache for drivers during River of Lights; westside commuters deal with them every night.
“Open up the lanes again so people can get to where they need to go and not be frustrated,” said Crystal Medina of Albuquerque.
The city said it can’t remove the cones because the far right lane is not striped yet.
“It’s really a matter of safety. Without striping, it’s not safe to have a driving lane where there’s no cones,” Griffin said.
After KRQE News 13 called the city, Griffin said the crews will remove the cones and open up the far right lane on weekends starting Friday night.
She said crews will stripe the right lanes on Monday and the barrels should be down permanently on that stretch of Central by the end of next week.