Another Pedestrian Death at Central and Coors: Will A.R.T. Help?

Albuquerque had been experiencing a decent stretch of not killing its pedestrians, but that changed with two walkers struck and killed in different incidents a week ago, including yet another case of hit-and-run.

Both were at nasty pedestrian crossings. Wednesday night, the 13th, someone was killed at Gibson and Carlisle. Only hours later, another pedestrian was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver at Central and Coors. This notorious intersection was the site of another pedestrian being struck just this past February. Focusing on this latter intersection, a photo from a February 2014 crash, captured by KRQE, kinda sums Central and Coors up:


Your truck doesn’t end up that way, snow or no snow, if you’re driving 30 mph.

2014 MRCOG report unsurprisingly notes the intersection was the site of five pedestrian crashes between 2008-2011, putting it in the top ten most dangerous places to walk in the city:

centralcoorsdataNote also the high number of bus riders per day at the location. And yeah, that gets us to Albuquerque Rapid Transit (A.R.T.). Having caught the bus at this intersection, your humble blogster can report Central and Coors is about the most unfriendly ped (and bike) environment possible, featuring plenty of motorists in an open near-highway setting, with anything but walkers (or cyclists) on their mind. Put that together with bus ridership and many other factors, and the data and steady stream of carnage-filled news reports about Central and Coors are the natural mathematical result.

Central and Coors is, understandably, one of the planned A.R.T. stations, serving as the western terminus in terms of median (and that word is very important here) platform stations. A blow-up of the online plans look like this:


The wildly popular #66 bus won’t be using the median here, but A.R.T. will, meaning that current sidewalk-entry Rapid Ride users will be crossing half the intersection. I can’t think of another planned A.R.T. station half-crossing quite so potentially dangerous. Other improvements will help, such as a “beg button” for those coming off the A.R.T. platform, but without speed limit reductions and other “calming” here in the Wild, Wild Westside of Albuquerque, one has to remain concerned.

Of course, there’s the matter with hit-and-run incidents that were talking “outlier” drivers (amid other factors, such as pedestrians failing to comply with laws) that make even the best traffic engineering improvements problematic and haltingly successful. Still, it’s fun, in a twisted way, to find and read old, old documents online, such as this 1982 Environmental Impact Statement looking forward to Coors and Central, as Conan O’Brien’s singer would intone: “In the Year 2000.” I especially like the hole punches for the plastic binder:



The above was written 34 years ago. The stories of pedestrian injuries and deaths at Coors and Central have steadily continued since.

Some work was done on the intersection in 2013, but the incidents keep piling up, so to speak. Upcoming A.R.T. sidewalk improvements along the route will also help, but you might notice the number of them planned for this intersection is rather limited. More intense and intricate traffic calming features seem warranted.


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