I read Gene Grant's opinion piece on the proposed roundabout at Rio Grande and Candelaria with great interest. I was pleased that he chose to reference my opinion piece previously published in the Journal. However, I'm sorry that Gene chose to ignore the main question that I have raised: Why is so much attention (and money) being showered on this particular intersection? Data given by roundabout proponents and the public relations company they have hired to sell this project to the public are misleading at best. It is totally insufficient to cite the number of accidents at an intersection in a given year and then say, "See how bad it is?" By contrast, professional transportation planners use what are known as comparative crash rates. These numbers reflect the ratios of accidents to traffic volumes at each intersection in the Albuquerque Metropolitan Planning Area over extended periods of time. This AMPA data is produced by UNM's Department of Government Research and provided under contract to the Mid-Region Council of Governments as the basis for all traffic planning in the metropolitan area.
This data clearly indicates that there are serious traffic issues in the North Valley. They simply don't happen to be at the Rio Grande and Candelaria intersection. In fact, three intersections in the area make the list of the top 20 most dangerous intersections in the entire metropolitan area. They are Rio Grande and Central, Rio Grande and I-40, and Candelaria and 12th Street. All three of these intersections have crash rates that are far higher than Rio Grande and Candelaria. If roundabouts are indeed as beneficial as their proponents claim, and if we are to spend millions of dollars in their construction, then obviously these are the intersections which we should be focusing on.
If the proposed Rio Grande and Candelaria roundabout does nonetheless proceed as planned, then its proponents will simply confirm what already seems evident: namely, that public safety is not in fact their paramount concern. What the real considerations at play here may be I leave to the proponents to explain.
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