New four-way stop to help curb crashes

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As of Nov. 8, everything stopped at the intersection of Manzano Expressway and North Rio Del Oro Loop. That’s the day two more stop signs went up, making the intersection a four-way stop.

Valencia County Public Works Director Kelly Bouska said she had received requests for the additional signs during the year she has worked for the county.

The reasons for the requests, Bouska said, were safety concerns “due to the traffic volume into the high school and middle school, the number of accidents and near misses there.”

North Rio Del Oro leads to Valencia High school to the east of the expressway.

When Bouska began researching the situation, she found that a former county employee had done a study on the intersection in 2011 using the manual for uniform traffic control devices, which outlines federal standards for signs and traffic signals, when intersections get a four-way versus a two-way stop, and so forth, she said.

The bottom line of the study was a recommendation to install a four-way stop.

“I have no idea why that didn’t happen,” Bouska said.

Within the last month, she has received calls ranging from parents of Valencia High School students to the governor’s office asking that the problems with the intersection be addressed.

“After pulling out the study and the recommendation at that time, we could figure that the traffic volume has probably increased in the last two years,” Bouska said. “The rumble strips were already there. There was no reason we shouldn’t install a four-way stop.”

Bouska said she met with the county sheriff and fire chief, who were both supportive of the move, as well as the principal at the high school and administration from the middle school.

“They were thrilled we were going ahead,” she said.

Bouska said the sheriff has committed to having deputies at the intersection to make sure residents are abiding by the new traffic rules.

“We are hoping to decrease the number of accidents and improve traffic flow,” Bouska said.

The last serious crash in the area was at the intersection of Manzano Expressway and South Rio Del Oro Loop, just south of the new four-way stop. After that, there were suggestions to close the south loop during peak school hours, Bouska said.

“But that road provides access to some homes on the back side of that subdivision,” she said. “After speaking with the sheriff and fire administration, they didn’t want to close it. We will continue to watch the situation.

“It will be interesting to see if, with the four way, if we have traffic increases on the south loop to get around it. There might be issues we need to address in the future.”


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.