Improve Safety at Hwy 522/B-007 Intersection

Improve Safety at Hwy 522/B-007 Intersection

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Hondo Mesa Community Association started this petition to NM DOT Javier Martinez, District 5 Traffic Engineer and

Petition for Improvements to the Intersection of NM Highway 522 and Taos County Road B-007 (Los Rios Rd.)

We, the undersigned residents and property owners of the Hondo Mesa area of Taos County, N.M., as well as other Taos County and New Mexico residents, request your attention to the need for major improvements to the intersection of NM Hwy 522 and County Rd. B-007. This location has many flaws that make it extremely difficult to make turns safely onto or off of the highway. These concerns are itemized below.

We request your immediate review of the unsafe conditions that exist at this intersection, including the following issues.

The need for a safe entrance ramp to the highway. The angle of the entry combined with the high speed of approaching traffic makes it difficult to enter traffic safely. There is no shoulder on this section and vehicles must start from a dead stop to enter traffic going 60-80 mph.

The need for a marked turning lane to exit the highway onto Los Rios Rd. (B-007). Vehicles exiting the highway on to B-007 must wait to turn while 60-80 mph traffic swerves around them until vehicles entering 522 from B-007 are able to enter the highway, since the entrance is too narrow for two vehicles to safely pass each other. Vehicles get backed up on the highway and are in danger of being rear-ended by speeding vehicles coming up behind them.

The need for the apron/ramp to be widened to allow 2 vehicles to safely pass each other while turning. Because of the narrow width and angle of traffic entering the ramp, a large truck like UPS and a car cannot safely pass at the entrance to B-007. In the spring and summer, a steady stream of large vans and buses with trailers from the rafting companies clog the turnoff, which is an unsafe situation for them and other vehicles. The width of the apron from the highway to B-007 is less than 20 feet, compared to the width of aprons on other side roads in the same area which are anywhere from 40’ to 80’. Our entrance is the narrowest of all side roads entering Hwy. 522 between Taos and Questa.

The need for the apron/ramp to be regraded and paved to allow water and ice to drain properly to prevent icy conditions in winter. In the past, ice and snow filled potholes have caused serious accidents at this location. The highway department filled in a sharp drop-off next to the ramp several years ago, but the gravel from the fill covers the paved surface and makes a “driving on marbles” effect. The current condition of the paved ramp is broken and pot-holed.

Signs for southbound traffic on Hwy. 522 warning of entering traffic from side road. This part of the highway is a merging lane from two lanes to one lane coming up the “Hondo Hill” and creates the effect of vehicles racing to pass each other at high speeds on the hill. At times like morning and evening “rush hours” it is dangerous to enter the highway from B-007, since there is a “blind effect” for highway traffic which cannot see the B-007 entrance.

Night visibility is an issue. There used to be a cattle guard at this location that was painted reflective yellow which helped drivers to see the turnoff, but that was removed. Local residents have placed reflective markers and solar lights to help locate the turnoff, but the entrance ramp should be painted with reflective yellow lines to make it more visible.

Professional highway engineers need to review the type and amount of traffic at this location and make the proper improvements to assure the safety of all drivers and vehicles using this very busy intersection. A recent improvement was the solar-powered flashing left turn sign installed by NM DOT on Hwy. 522 about a half-mile south of the B-007 turnoff. This sign was damaged by wind and vandalism in December 2019 and has not been replaced yet. This sign was a step in the right direction, but the most pressing problem is the actual conditions at the turnoff itself, which remain unsafe. 

We request the NM DOT and other agencies address the issues above with the input and consultation of Hondo Mesa Community Association and other residents, since we are the ones who have experience here and must live with the conditions at this intersection.

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