¿Qué Pasa? NMDOT employee newsletter March 2021

NM Rail Runner Express and NM Park and Ride resume services

Passengers board the train for the trip north. NMRX Photos by Jake Schoellkopf

It was a comforting sight to see the New Mexico Rail Runner slowly lumber into the Downtown Albuquerque station. The NM Rail Runner and Park and Ride resumed passenger services after a yearlong suspension due to COVID-19. The trains and buses will be running on a limited weekday schedule only. Train capacity is limited to 25 percent or 160 seats. For more information visit www.riometro.org/weekdayschedule

To provide a safe environment for passengers and staff, NMDOT Park and Ride and New Mexico Rail Runner Express initiated procedures in March 2020 which will remain in effect for the duration of the public health crisis until restrictions are adjusted by government and/or health officials. Mandatory face coverings, extensive sanitizing of vehicles, hand sanitizer stations, vehicle air circulation, and social distancing measures are in place.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe cancels Good Friday events

El Santuario de Chimayo will be closed Holy Thursday through Easter Monday (April 1-5). El Santuario’s grounds, chapel and restrooms will also be closed.
The DOT understands how disappointing this must be for many New Mexicans, but the COVID-19 danger remains and without added safety provisions the risk of injury or death by walking on poorly lit, high-traffic roadways is too great. Please take care and celebrate safely at home. The department is grateful for everyone’s understanding and cooperation. —Transportation Secretary Michael Sandoval

The New Mexico Department of Transportation, New Mexico State Police and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe are asking the faithful to please stay home during Holy Week. While annual pilgrimages to El Santuario de Chimayo and Tome Hill are cherished, New Mexico traditions, the events have been cancelled. The Archdiocese made the difficult decision to cancel all pilgrimages and special processions out of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concern for the safety of the pilgrims journeying to these sacred sites. 

U.S. 550 no left hand turns

Keep 550 Moving

The NMDOT introduces Super Street Intersections on U.S. 550 in Bernalillo to reduce overall travel time. Public Information Officer Kim Gallegos talks you through navigating these unique intersections. For more information please visit www.Keep550Moving.com

Workers re-arranging wall barrier, aka “Jersey Barrier,” along U.S. 550, west of the Rio Grande in Bernalillo; as they prepared for further laying of a large storm drainage pipe that will run west of the Rio Grande Bridge heading west. Wall barrier is usually used to reroute traffic and protect pedestrians and workers during highway construction. Also called “Jersey Barriers,” they’re named so after the U.S. state of New Jersey which first started using the barriers as separators between lanes of a highway in the 1950s. U.S. 550 Photos by Jake Schoellkopf
Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives. #WorkZoneSafetyAwareness #NMDOTcares

NMDOT launches new spring traffic safety campaigns

The New Mexico Department of Transportation unveiled its newest campaign to curb drunk driving, distracted driving, and lack of seatbelt use. Due to COVID-19 filming restrictions, the department chose to create another animated campaign to prevent the potential spread of the deadly virus.

The spring radio, television and digital spots are narrated from the perspective of a child, who is telling a story of loss by weaving a compelling narrative from a child’s point of view as she describes the consequences of adult drivers. The narration is supported by childlike drawings which become animated.

The set up and framing of the scene establish the traumatic stress endured by the child because of an adult’s irresponsibility. And the animation technique conveys the messages effectively through emotional story telling while indicating enforcement along with physical and emotional consequences.

There were 390 traffic fatalities in New Mexico in 2020, 139 of those were alcohol related, 153 were due to people not using seatbelts or proper restraints, and 147 crashes involved distracted driving. The sad reality is drivers can control the devastating consequences of distracted, drunk and unrestrained driving. —Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval

D6 roadway reconstruction and bridge rehabilitation project

Video by Communications

Work began on Monday, March 8, on I-40, between miles markers 112-117 (from Laguna to Mesita). Speed is reduced to 55mph through the work zone with a 12’ width restriction. Expect delays and thank you for your patience. Please practice the Zipper Merge. Use both lanes and take turns. #WorkZoneSafety #NMDOTcares

Roadway reconstruction and bridge rehabilitation. Photos by Delane Baros

3 2 1... KA-BLAM!

Preliminary roadwork on the replacement of two existing bridges on N.M. 152 between Hillsboro and Kingston has begun. Part of that roadwork involves blasting out a hillside near one of the bridges. One day of blasting has already taken place and on Friday Feb. 26, 2021; intermittent lane closures will be in place for more blasting. The roadway will be reopened when it is cleared. Traffic can expect a flagging operation leading up to the Blast closure. Photos by Jake Schoellkopf

A look at the hillside before the blast. 3 2 1...
After the blast an excavator works feverishly to clear rock off of N.M. 152 so it can be re-opened to traffic.

I-25/University Project in Las Cruces

How to ride the University roundabout

Video by Communications

Go for a drive with District One Public Information Officer Ami Evans and learn to ride the University roundabout.

University bridge demolition

Video by Communications

There is only one way to get rid of an old bridge—smash it!! NMDOT District One crews are working late nights demolishing the University Bridge over I-25 in Las Cruces.

D2 hires new District Engineer

D2 District Engineer Francisco Sanchez

Roswell native and Professional Engineer Francisco Sanchez has been selected as the new District Two Engineer. Mr. Sanchez was the Assistant District Engineer overseeing highway maintenance and project design in southeastern New Mexico. In his new role as District Engineer, he will oversee all district operations, construction, and maintenance.


To NMDOT Executive Staff

To whom it may concern—I have to tell someone at the State Highway Dept. about a couple of men who deserve an award of some kind from the highest of the ladder (THE BIG BOSS). My 5-year-old daughter and I were taking a bedroom set to her daughter (my grand daughter) in Albuquerque—about 30 miles out of ABQ the mattress blew out on the interstate. As the two of us were carrying it back to the truck, two wonderful men from the Highway Dept. crossed the median and pulled up behind us and ordered us to drop the mattress and go back to our truck. They got it back to the truck and tied it down better than we had it and made sure it was secured good. we will be forever grateful for these two men. 1. Armando Ramirez 2. Jarrett Mendenhall Please see that these two men are recognized to the higher up in the department. Pattie Cawthon (59) Patsy Warden (80) Thank you! P.S. Sorry about my writing I am partially blind- Mrs. Patsy Warden

To: Arron Auld Patrol Supervisor NMDOT - Tularosa

I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to you and your staff for the great work you did over the weekend of February 12 through February 15. During that time, Otero and Lincoln county were both hit with a heavy winter storm. There was heavy snow fall and icy road conditions. You and your crews were working round the clock plowing and salting the road. The hard work by you and your employees ensured safe roads for the motoring public through the Lincoln and Otero county. The NMSP supervisory staff, officers and I personally want to thank you all for your unselfish efforts and continued hard work in helping ensure that the roads through Lincoln and Otero counties are safe to drive for the motoring public. Thank you again, Captain Ty Hamilton District CommanderDistrict 8 New Mexico State PoliceAlamogordo


Hi! I just wanted to say thank you for your constant and well written updates about the University and I-25 construction. I have lived through (yes, lived through!) several constructions at that site over the many years I have daily driven to NMSU and this is the first time that I have not panicked approaching the exit. In fact, the morning lines to exit I-25 from the north onto University have always stretched almost all the way to Missouri Ave and just stopped. Now there is such smooth sailing up to the exit. The plans for this construction makes sense. No other big changes ever made sense. The construction people seem to be courteous and careful with their work and I am just amazed to see that this might really work!! I realize Covid has made traffic a bit lighter as well, but how we are maneuvered around, even on Triviz, has pretty much been so smooth. So, thank you for your work. Keep the updates coming. I look forward to seeing this project to completion! —Thank you, Deb Franzoy, Program Specialist Retired

What's up for April 2021

Distracted Driving Awareness

National Walking Day

Aprl 7, is National Walking Day! Walk New Mexico

April 26-30, National Work Zone Awareness Week

April 28, Workers' Memorial Day

Tomato 'grand-puree'

Photos by Jake Schoellkopf

NMDOT Courtesy Patrol Supervisor Victor Martinez kicks a box to the side of the road as he starts to clean up the tomato mess.
NMDOT North Urban Patrol maintainers toss empty boxes, and some still full of tomatoes, into the back of a truck. 

NMDOT LinkedIn Learning

Happy Learning

NMDOT wants to help you build and heighten your professional skills through LinkedIn Learning. If you have not done so, please use your activation email to get started. You will have unlimited access to over 10,000 video’s and online courses. Whether you're a Highway Maintenance Worker, Engineer, Administrative Support, Financial Specialist or Executive Staff, there are classes for you. If you have any questions or need your invitation resent, contact Jennifer Martinez, Jennifer.Martinez@state.nm.us or 505-231-8541.

De-escalation training

Provided by Dave Harris

The recent Federal mask-wearing mandate puts many CTAA members' drivers on the front line of enforcement of a federal policy. This important conflict de-escalation training — graciously brought to our members through the New Mexico Department of Transportation and long-time transit training expert Ream Lazaro — is an ideal online training that we highly recommend all CTAA member agencies share with their operators and front-line supervisors.

In loving memory of Josephine (JoJo) Martinez

July 23, 1969 — March 21, 2021

The NMDOT family extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the shooting victims and those impacted by the Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado massacres. #StopTheHate #NMDOTcares

Cover photo: Traffic travels east and west along I-40 though a driving snow storm, approximately 12 miles east of Clines Corners, Monday March 22. Snowy weather hit the central plains and up through the northeast part of the state. Photo by Jake Schoellkopf

¿Qué Pasa?

Next deadline for content is Friday April 23, 2021

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