ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It is an infamous stretch of I-25 that has its own nickname and a well-known set of problems. Now after years of studying how to fix the S-curve the state could still go with the cheapest option, do nothing.
The so called S-curve on I-25 is the dangerous stretch between Lead/Coal and Avenida Cesar Chavez. The Department of Transportation wants to straighten it out, but that would be a huge ordeal and the next best thing may be to leave it as is.
“Well that area is a dangerous curve, it’s hard for people to get on and off that area,” said Leonard Webster.
It’s a problem area that has been studied for years.
“I see bad driver behavior there that could be made better if the road was made safer,” Doug Majewski said.
Congestion is especially bad there during the morning and evening commute and there are safety concerns. The speed limit on most of the south I-25 corridor is 65 miles per hour.
“Right now, the area is currently already posted lower than the rest of the cooridor, it currently has a 55 mph speed limit,” Jill Mosher, NMDOT Assistant District Engineer said.
An NMDOT study calls the S-curve the highest priority, but one of the most complex too.
There are several options to straighten the S-curve, but they entail major changes like buying private property. The options for the fixes could cost almost $100 million, but the department says there’s always another option.
“Whenever we do a study, we always look up the do ‘nothing option.’ It’s an option that we have to look at,” Mosher said.
According to the latest study, during public comment some suggested keeping the S-curve but dropping the speed limit below 55. Also, more traffic enforcement.
“We can post it but we’re not an enforcement agency,” Mosher said.
“If we can reduce the speed that could be good because but they need to set up some kind of trap there and they need to start stopping these people that are driving erratic,” Webster said.
KRQE News 13 asked State Police about speed enforcement there. They sent us a statement saying:
In General New Mexico State Police District 5 officers have increased patrol on the metro interstate system over the last month. Drivers most likely have seen and will see more state police officer on I-25 and I-40 in the metro. The S curve on I-25 has seen its fair share of crashes but speed is not the only factor involved in most of the crashes seen there or on the metro interstate system. We have focused on the main issues affecting crashes on the metro interstate system which are distracted driving, speeding, following to close, reckless driving, and careless driving. I-40 sees the most crashes of the two major interstate systems running through the metro. However with construction at I-25 and Rio Bravo and I-25 and San Mateo/Osuna, I-25 is at risk for more crashes due to those same issues we are targeting. A reduction in speed and those identified issues for crashes will ensure a safe commute for everyone.
For now, NMDOT says it has a long way to go before it comes to a final solution.
“But as for the study we have not gone into depth to figure out what options are the most feasible,” Mosher said.
The state wants to eventually re-do I-25 from Lomas all the way past Rio Bravo, adding more lanes and building new interchanges. Some of the interchanges are 50 years old and the city has outgrown them.
The total cost of that project could top $300 million.
The work would be done in phases as the money becomes available from the state and the feds.