Merchants say drivers using road to bypass traffic signal

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BLOOMFIELD — The city of Bloomfield is considering placing a barrier near an alley on a short street that officials believe drivers use to bypass the traffic signal at the intersection of 5th Street/U.S. Highway 550 and U.S. Highway 64.

Business owners on 6th Street say the situation has created a dangerous environment.

During a City Council meeting on Monday, Bloomfield Super Lube owner Alan Doyle said problems occur when vehicles heading east on U.S. Highway 64 turn onto 6th Street.

“They shoot across there to beat the traffic,” he said. “Well, whenever they get to the intersection right there just right off of the highway, they’re running 30, 40 miles an hour through there.”

A police department traffic study found more than 1,300 cars drove on the short street on a Tuesday in early November, according to City Manager George Duncan. Duncan said there were about 1,300 cars on the following Wednesday and about 1,100 vehicles traveled the road on that Thursday.

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In contrast, public works director Jason Thomas said a traffic study on the East Blanco Boulevard bridge counted 3,571 cars over a 24-hour period last year. He said 6th Street receives about 36 percent of the volume of traffic that East Blanco Boulevard sees. While 6th Street is only about a block long, East Blanco Boulevard is one of the major thoroughfares in the city.

The Bloomfield Super Lube has two garage bays that open onto 6th Street. Doyle said he no longer allows his employees to back vehicles out of those bays without assistance.

A few years ago, Doyle said drivers were cutting the corner and coming within two feet of hitting the corner of his building. He said he worked with the city to install cement barriers and a chain-link fence to stop that.

Bloomfield Super Lube is located on the east side of the intersection while a Giant gas station is on the west side. The north-south street is about one block long and turns east onto Sycamore Avenue by Salmon Park.

Duncan said the city does not want to block the street because it needs to maintain access for the police and fire departments.

Instead, he said a gate with a lock and key near the alley would allow the city to use the road and the Giant gas station to have access for fuel trucks. However, the gate would prevent drivers from using the short road to bypass the traffic signal.

“It is a huge problem,” Duncan said. “I don’t see much of a solution other than placing that barrier.”

Councilor Matt Pennington expressed concerns that placing the barrier would lead to drivers cutting through the Bloomfield Super Lube’s parking lot.

“We need to have a plan that probably approaches more than just this,” he said.

Mayor Cynthia Atencio suggested making the alley behind the Bloomfield Super Lube a dead end before the business and installing the gate on 6th Street.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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