Photo: MG Bralley
Former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez is being criticized for another last minute decision -- to increase the speed limit for motorists commuting on a small portion of Montano that runs through Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.
Daily commuters are probably wondering what's going.
On Monday, city crews -- at the direction of Chavez -- were increasing the speed limit from 40 to 45. Now it's headed back down to 40 on the orders of new Mayor Richard Berry and Public Safety Director Darren White.
While in office, Chavez had several high-profile disputes over the construction of the Montano Bridge with Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Mayor Larry Abraham, who says the speed increase was a "parting shot [by Chavez] to those of us in the North Valley."
"He doesn't play well with others," Abraham told 770KKOB. "Marty wanted to get one in before he left office."
But Chavez' former public information officer Deborah James said the mayor didn't wait until his last day in office to make the decision.
"This was planned well before," James said. "It was based on numerous requests from West Side residents."
But Abraham doesn't buy that reasoning. He said there has been an agreement between the two cities regarding speeds on Montano since the new bridge was built and increasing the speed limit on Chavez' last day violated the agreement.
"I think his true colors are coming out," Abraham said. "This will show the public what we've had to deal with -- as elected officials with Marty Chavez in office -- and it's never been fun."
After being defeated for a third-straight term, Chavez, who was boarding an airplane at the Sunport when we tried to get direct input from him, made several decisions that are binding, including a memo of understanding with the Albuquerque Area Firefighters and AFSCME.
The first allows fire crews arrested for non-aggravated DWI to remain on the job. Chavez' agreement with AFSCME allows the union to participate in binding arbitration for some disputes with the City.
The Acting Director of Municipal Developement for the City of Albuquerque Michael Riordan said the city has been collecting speed data from the area for the past three years and has been working on a memo of understanding with the Corp of Engineers.
He said the city has jursidiction and that 14 signs were changed and then changed again after calls to Mayor Berry's office on Tuesday.
"Because of the geometry of Montanto -- it's a long straight shot -- with astetics and everything you don't want to set the speed limit to low," Riordan said. "The typical driver is traveling about 35 miles an hour."
Riordan confirmed the order to make the speed limit change came from Chavez office on Monday -- the last day of his administration -- although the data for the basis of the decision had been known for quite a while.