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  The Gauntlet
 

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letters, opinions, editorials

re: 550/I-25 open letter to DOT

I live in Placitas and have to drive through the construction area at the I-25 and Hwy 550 interchange. Since mid-July, there have been at least three accidents that I have personally witnessed—one of them being my own, where I was rear-ended at high speed by an inattentive driver. My husband has personally also witnessed one accident. And, of course, we read about the gentleman that was killed by a falling temporary power pole. My guess is that there have been many more accidents since we personally know of five. A quick check with the Bernalillo Police Department should verify this.

While my accident was not directly related to the construction, I am convinced that it (as well as all the other accidents) were contributed to by the incredibly poor lane marking, orange barrel/cone placement, the temporary lights, and low-hanging power lines, as well as very poor design in re-routing traffic through the area. Virtually every day, I come across some change in the roadway that doesn’t make sense or is not clear or is not well marked. Today, as I sat at the light (westbound on 550), I watched northbound cars coming off the freeway at exit 242 using a ramp that is closed. The workmen ran to the cars to try to head them off. Three cars had made it through there before a construction worker moved his personal truck into position to block the off-ramp. Had it been properly marked, this would not have happened. I, myself, was going to turn south onto I-25 and was unable to discern where the on-ramp now was. I wound up driving into Bernalillo and making a U-turn to get back to the freeway.

Temporary lights are misaligned with respect to lanes on any given day. There are large gaps in cone/barrel placement so people cannot figure out where the new temporary roadway is. Left/right turn lanes suddenly disappear causing drivers to slam on their brakes when they suddenly realize they have nowhere to go. There is also confusion as to access to local businesses.

I commuted through the whole Big-I re-construction project twice a day! And while the routing changed almost daily, I never had any difficulty. This construction project, however, is a disaster even though it is considerably smaller and speeds through it are not as fast as they were through the Big-I, and the volume of traffic is lower.

I urge you to contact the Bernalillo Police Department and get statistics on the number of accidents /injuries /deaths that have occurred in the course of this project. The State and the contractor will be incurring incredible liabilities if this neglect is allowed to continue. I urge you to hire a competent traffic safety engineer to oversee what is being done, and to plan any lane changes and diversions to ensure that drivers are able to figure out what to do in plenty of time to avoid any more accidents. Your prompt attention to this matter will be appreciated by the entire community.

Sincerely,
 —Kejka Collins, Placitas

Sent later: “I met with a DOT official this afternoon and was very pleased. They took my email describing the safety concerns I had very seriously and have already improved safety at the I-25/Hwy 550 construction site. They are now monitoring the construction area more frequently and intend to stay on top of the situation. They asked me to let them know if I see anything else egregious, which I agreed to do.

So, apparently it pays to write a letter, NM DOT! How refreshing. Too bad Washington doesn’t emulate NM DOT!


re: tricky treats

Dear Friends Back East:

As I write this note, Halloween is only a couple of days away. And this time around, I’ve come to realize how much more fun it is to receive extortion threats from young New Mexicans than to receive identical demands from the insufferably childish members of the U.S. Congress.

But, as the night approaches, I am again besieged by neurotic indecision, i.e. what “treats” should I purchase and in what quantities to safeguard my property from complete and utter ruination by hordes of youthful, blackmailing Land of Enchanters—the dreaded Placitinis; the fearsome Bernalillionis; the merciless Algodonisi. And, of course, scary Otherinis.

I dearly love our local bright-eyed little New Mexico answers to your city’s Five Points Gang; your Plug Uglies; the Dead Rabbits; the Bowery Boys; the Gambino crime family. But…what to give our own faux poltergeists when, after a jolting ring of the doorbell and devilish poundings on the door, Patrick Cat and I are confronted with the dreaded, “Trick or Treat” ultimatum?!

I drove down to Walgreens and made my way to the orange and black goody aisle. There, in serious competition with other pushy neurotics, I selected a bag of a very well-known candy, in what is called “fun size,” cashed out, and returned home.

As I dumped the sweets into a plastic pumpkin designed to accommodate dozens of grabby little fingers simultaneously, I realized the bag really didn’t contain very many of these miniature candy bars. So, concerned about quantity, I drove down to Walgreens and secured another two bags of “fun size” candy bars of different brands.

Only then did I read the fun size labeling on the empty bags and see the allergy warnings about peanuts, eggs, almonds and soy in each of these candy brands. So, I drove down to Walgreens and, once again, visited the Aisle of Treats. This time, I carefully checked the labels for warnings and read ingredient statements. Purchasing four more bags of what appeared to be non-threatening, allergy-free bags of empty calories, I returned home. Calories! I immediately recalled how our nation is becoming obese. Again I began to question the wisdom of my Halloween purchases.

By the time you receive this note, it is possible I will have made yet another visit to a purveyor of Halloween treats in search of better nutrition. Maybe raisins? Should I counter-balance each fun-size morsel with a box of raisins? Perhaps I should have an offering of pomegranate juice and steamed squares of tofu in appealing flavors? Asparagus stalks with orange and black ribbons?

Holy jumping weasel critters, it’s overwhelming! So, Patrick and I might just sit quietly in the darkness, hoping the little gangsters just go away. But that would disappoint the old boy. He seems genuinely happy in his latest Halloween costume (he will be dressed as the U.S. debt ceiling) and, unlike me, he likes answering the door.

But, if previous years are any clue, we won’t have a large crowd. Though we are always well prepared for the local fun-sized werewolves and witches, their annual numbers are usually way less than one. Fortunately, neither Patrick nor I suffer from food allergies; our teeth are either missing or have become largely synthetic; and calories can be eternally damned to the fun size inferno of Hades, purgatory, limbo and the House Committee on Ethics. Happy Halloween.

—Your Friend, Herb, Placitas


re: Voices From Our Past

On Sunday, October 20, I had the pleasure of attending “Voices From Our Past”—an outstanding exhibit, honoring the contributions and unique history of many of the old founding families of Sandoval County. The exhibit, which features an outstanding collection of photos, depicting the families, historic sites, churches, schools, and businesses in Bernalillo, Cuba, Sile, Peña Blanca, Placitas, etc., was thoughtfully and painstakingly put together by Martha Liebert and her steadfast, loyal, and hardworking team of volunteers.

The event was very well attended, due in no small part to the prominent placement of the “Voices from the past” notice on the events calendar in front of the Bernalillo City Hall. Many thanks to the Mayor of Bernalillo Jack Torres and his staff for their invaluable assistance in bringing this unique event to the public’s attention.

Family members in attendance were asked if they wished to share a story about their families, and fortunately, many did. It was a pleasure to hear their reminiscences about what their life and times were like so long ago.

My good friend, the late Mary Helen Sandoval, and members of the her family, who were among the founding families in Sandoval County, who lived in Cabezon, San Ysidro, and Corrales, were very well represented by the many and varied family photos contributed by her great nephew, Noah.

Thanks so very much to the folks at the Historical Society for bringing this long cherished hope of Martha’s to fruition. Well done!

—Margaret Palumbo, Placitas

 
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