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Sunday, December 21, 2014

UNM still hasn’t replaced road signs near hospital

Editor,

Last summer I wrote a letter to the Daily Lobo about safety concerns on the north campus road Camino de Salud connecting Frontage Road North along I-25 to University Boulevard.

The speed limit on this campus road is posted at 15 mph, yet there is only one speed limit sign on the eastbound lane. So when UNM Hospital employees who park in the Lands West Parking Lot come barreling down the westbound lane traveling at speeds of 30 to 40 mph, nearly mowing down pedestrians, apparently they don’t know any better. The crosswalk at the east end of the road is not marked with signs or any flashing lights. At the west end of the road near I-25, there used to be a three-way stop sign, which is now only a two-way stop sign after one of the signs blew down in the spring of 2012. Is it really that difficult for the University to replace road and safety signs?

The Daily Lobo responded with a news story on July 23, which included interviews with UNM officials who claimed there was no set policy to rectify road dangers. According to Policy 6110 of the UNM Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual, “The University of New Mexico is committed to providing a safe and healthy work and educational environment that is free from recognized hazards that could be responsible for injury or illness.” This policy goes on to say, “The ultimate responsibility for safety, however, cannot be delegated as a staff function, it must be assumed by every member of the University community.” This policy goes on to say, “Deans, directors, department heads, and other supervisors should be aware of the health and safety needs of their employees and customers.” So when UNM Planning Officer Mary Kenney says the University doesn’t have an official system for pedestrians or drivers to report safety issues, what’s she talking about?

On the campus road Tucker Avenue near University Boulevard and UNM Safety and Risk Services, there are numerous speed limit signs, including radar signs that track the speed of drivers. The pedestrian crosswalks are all clearly marked with signs and flashing yellow lights. Why is the campus road Camino de Salud, which is just across University Boulevard, any different? The University is planning to spend tens of millions to build a new hospital in this area — is it really asking too much to fix a few road signs and string up some flashing yellow lights?

I tried contacting UNM campus police to see if they could occasionally patrol this campus road and set up a speed trap for the dangerous UNMH drivers. There are always several UNMPD cars parked outside Satellite Coffee while they eat their pastries.

UNMPD replied that it wasn’t in its jurisdiction and that would be a job of the Albuquerque police. So I called 242-COPS, but they said it wasn’t their job, either. You would think both departments could work together, but apparently that is not possible.

One has to question the competence of administrators and leaders who are not even able to fix and replace missing safety and road signage to protect their employees.

Brian Fejer
UNM student