Kevin Murray (claystorm) wrote,
Kevin Murray

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Planning, or lack of it...

Sometimes the lack of planning that goes on in Albuquerque, and for that matter New Mexico kills me. I think that some people have a image of what used Albuquerque to be (A Small Slow City), and want it to remain that way. Well, I have news for these people; It’s not going to stay that way. Weather people like it or not, Albuquerque is a fast growing city and so is the metro area that surrounds Albuquerque. Now is the time to not only plan for the impending growth, but to also build infrastructure ahead of the growth, and not after which as been the defacto standard for Albuquerque

So, being the dork I am some days of the week, I was looking at the "2025 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP)" which is created by the "Mid-Region Council of Governments", because I wanted to see where some projects were at in terms of status on when they were planned to be built. What I found is really disappointing. Now I should start by telling you all what the "2025 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP)" is if you have not figured it out from the title yet.

The 2025 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP)"is a long range transportation plan that paints a picture of what a metropolitan area will look like 20 years from now in terms of population, employment, number of vehicles on roadways, etc. It also recommends transportation planning activities that need to take place to accommodate the anticipated growth: what roads need to be built or improved, what transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities need to be developed or improved, and how all these different projects and modes of transportation will work together." (Taken from

The MTP covers the period from 2003 to 2025, so some of the projects have been started and/or completed. Also with the start of GRIP (Governor Richardson's Investment Partnership), some of these projects in the MTP, have been moved up like the Coors / 1-40 Interchange, which had been schedule for 2011 to 2115 and the I-25 / Tramway interchange which had been scheduled for 2016 to 2025. Other projects have been moved up due to private funding and other things.

So, when I started to look at the MTP I was shocked to see where some of the project area in the timeline and which projects do not even exist in this MTP. For example, Paseo Del Norte, is one of the major east/west connections from the east side of Albuquerque to the west side. From Coors Rd to just before Jefferson, its all Freeway style, but there still is a traffic light at Paseo & Jefferson and also at Paseo & I-25, which causes lots of backup during rush hour not only on Paseo but also on I-25 and the surrounding roads. So I went looking for when the Paseo & Jefferson interchange project was scheduled for, and found that it is currently scheduled for 2016 to 2025. So that means, that at a minimum for the next 10 years there will be no relief in sight, unless there is a change to the current MTP. So, next I went looking for Paseo & I-25, and never found it. So, unless they rolled it into the Paseo & Jefferson project, there is no hope at all for I-25 and Paseo Del Norte again, unless there is a change to the current MTP.

When I was looking at the DRAFT 2025 MTP Fall Amendment, I saw a number that made my jaw drop. The number, 12,500 is the average increases in number of vehicles seeking to cross the Rio Grande each year. So, that means that each year, on average 12,500 more cars cross the Rio Grande at any of the 7 river crossings in the city, no wonder rush-hour feels like its getting worse when I go to my parents house in Corrales.

There are other things that make me wonder if these people have there heads screwed on right. Right now, with few exceptions, the interstates & freeways in Albuquerque are 3 lanes each direction. A lot of the focus on highway / freeway construction in the city right now is on I-40. They are rebuilding the bridges that cross the freeway, which I will admit is needed, as some of these bridges are 40 years old. But, they also want to widen I-40, which I know is there outlook on the future and I understand that. But, also, I-40 moves very well during rush hour, where as I-25 does not. I-25 has major gridlock problems during the rush hour time period. There are some short term fixes that they could do to help fix this problem, but I have yet to see any movement on these. Also, again with few exceptions, there is little in the MTP talking about upgrades and/or improvements to I-25 corridor.

So, I know the old saying "It’s got to get worse before it can get better", but I wonder how much worse it HAS to get, before it will get better? Also, there are a lot of people who are bitching about leap-frog development on the Westside. Leap-frog development is when one development leaps over a current area, and starts in a new one. If you look at the Westside of Albuquerque there are plenty examples of this. Well, I think if the city had invested in infrastructure out on the Westside, we would see a lot less of the leap-frog developments, as there is more incentive to build where the roads and everything else has been already put in. But, instead the city relies on developers to put in the roads, and thus has lead to a cookie-cutter road system out on the Westside. Some roads are built 4 lanes, but have only 2 lanes hooking into them on each side. Others start, and then go no where. It’s really just a crappy system, which again promotes leap-frog development.

Also, there are some people who use the claim "If you build it, they will come", in regards to roads. These people think that if you build a road, it will not help congestion, it will just create more traffic. This is very wrong. If this was true, and assuming zero growth, then this would mean that cars are just materizing on these roads, which last time I checked the rules of physics, just could not happen. So, now we mix growth into our equations, and using that 12,500 number from above, we can see where all of these cars are coming from. So, in the 2 years it takes to physical construct a river crossing (which was one of the examples I saw in a presentation on the "If you build it" theory) in Albuquerque, with out legal stuff mixed in, you could have an extra 25,000 cars a year crossing the river.

I will write more on this subject, for now you can all ponder what I have said.
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