Tijeras Blues: Center Barrier Discussion

Update (11/17/14):  NM DOT confirmed this morning that the dotted lines pictured at the bottom of this post are not for center barrier installation, but “were layout lines of the final wheelpath so the smoothness measurement vehicle could evaluate the proper place in the pavement“.  So the barrier is only in place underneath the I-40 underpass, the same as it was before this repaving project began.  Thank you for NM DOT for responding to my concern and taking the time to explain the project.  Credit must go to the dialogue the New Mexico Coalition for Bicyclists initiated with their engineering committee for effectively voicing the bicycling perspective in roadway design and project implementation, and to all the local bicycling support.  I hope we can make and celebrate a sequence of continuing project success stories.  Let’s throw a bicycling party for Tijeras when it is done and completed.  The new shoulder is generous & smooth.  World class bicycling here, folks.
http://www.bikenm.org/action/engineering
_______________________

Old Route 66 and the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro are the new Mother Roads for cyclists!  Old Route 66 through Tijeras Canyon has a center barrier going up that seems to have the consequence of putting a squeeze on space for multi modal traffic along the side of the road.  The barrier is being constructed underneath the I-40 underpass right now.  But I also noticed dotted lines recently painted from the Albuquerque city limits eastward for the first few miles of the canyon apparently indicating there is a plan for a center barrier there too.

the barrier appears a few miles west of the Village of Tijeras on the I-40 underpass

the barrier appears a few miles west of the Village of Tijeras on the I-40 underpass

2014.11.15 around and up 161

2014.11.15 around and up 162

In areas where there is a guard rail to the right it feels tight

In areas where there is a guard rail to the right it feels tight

The center barrier prohibits faster traffic from moving left to give clearance to the slower traffic (like bicycles) they may want to pass.  With the center barrier on the left and guard rail on the right there is no escape route.  One easement might be to move the guard rails further to the right edge of the pavement to provide more lane + shoulder width.   Check out the lane width interactive graphics here to visualize how much lane width is required to provide safe clearance for different types of vehicles passing bicyclists:
http://iamtraffic.org/resources/interactive-graphics/

2014.11.15 around and up 166

the guard rail cantilevers out some at the exit point.  When I look at the metal rail I see a fall hazard for bicyclists

the guard rail cantilevers out some at the exit point. When I look at the metal rail I see a fall hazard for bicyclists

Further towards town there are markings painted for a two mile stretch apparently indicating where the center barrier will be situated.  Yikes!  I don’t think a center barrier would make for a nicer road, and definitely not a safer one for bicyclists.  It feels so confining and narrow, especially when there is a guard rail on the other side.

2014.11.15 around and up 199

If a center barrier is installed here then obviously the white fog lines (“edge lines”) will have to be repainted effectively reducing the shoulder width

 

2014.11.15 around and up 206

with a barrier on the left and guard rail on the right this seems like a trap

 

2014.11.15 around and up 209

Please email me with ideas for remediation.  I contacted the District 3 engineering office this Friday and bike advocates with GABAC and Bicycle Coalition of NM.  District 3 indicated plans could be reviewed for a second look.  I hope we can discover an end result where Tijeras Canyon is a world class road for bicyclists for years to come.  Thanks, Mark bikeyogi (@) gmail.com

“Building infrastructure to support active transportation is an investment in the state’s future”.  From the NM DOT Long Range Planning document Fall 2014 http://www.bikenm.org/images/nmdot_long_range_plan-mtgs_fall_2014.pdf

NM DOT, advocates and enthusiasts are working together to protect the safety of bicyclists and improve the quality of experience for everyone on our fine roads that preserve the character of what makes New Mexico unique.  Back roads like old route 66 offer access and mobility for all kinds of travelers and keep the New Mexico True experience open and alive for residents, tourists, and active recreationalists.  These roads are important to our sense of freedom and identity as New Mexicans, Americans and global citizens sharing our uniqueness with the world.  Bicycling like music connects us across cultures.

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