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Kirtland AFB offers Albuquerque land for east-west Gibson bypass road

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - A longtime idea to help move traffic across the south end of Albuquerque is being renewed by Kirtland Air Force Base with a proposal to help get drivers cutting through the base.

Kirtland Air Force Base is once again talking about the idea of extending Gibson Boulevard from Louisiana out to Eubank. The proposal calls for a "bypass" route to be built on vacant land currently owned by the base.

The Air Force says it would give the land to the city for free, but the city would need to pay for the road's construction.

"It would be a huge change," said Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) official Bo Bohannon of the potential Gibson bypass.

Bohannon is a deputy director for KAFB's Civil Engineering Department. He says the base has had talks on and off with the city over the last two decades on the possibility of a Gibson bypass road.

"We see the benefit being reduced traffic congestion in the southeast part of Albuquerque," said Bohannon in an interview with KRQE News 13 Friday.

While there are currently no plans to move forward with the roadway, KAFB says it's hoping to renew discussions with the city about the road as it prepares to change entryway gates to the base over the next several years.

"We get a lot of unintentional people arriving at the base that we have to turn around and seek elsewhere," said Bohannon.

KAFB says it's trying to move several of its base entryways off of their current alignment at the end of arterial roadways, like Eubank, Wyoming and Gibson.

Alongside a flood control project near GIbson and Louisiana, KAFB is hoping to augment the Gibson Avenue entryway, and open up vacant land on the base to a potential bypass.

The bypass would start at Gibson Boulevard's intersection with Louisiana, jog north, then head east on a strip of undeveloped base property. The road would then bridge, or flyover Wyoming Boulevard, continuing east out to the intersection of Southern and Eubank, near the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.

Over the last two years, traffic changes on Zuni have narrowed the road to one travel lane in each direction. On Central, the ART project has reduced the number of driving lanes in some places.

KAFB hopes that a potential Gibson bypass could help the city deal with traffic congestion.

"We think would alleviate some of the traffic congestion along Central and Zuni and some of the other east-west arterials," said Bohannon.

Some drivers who can't access the base say it's a hassle trying to get around the secured military installation.

"It is a hassle to go over to Central and then back over towards Eubank," said Cindy Aspden of Albuquerque. "We have to go through the base, or take all those side streets through lots of lights and what not."

If the bypass were to take shape, the Air Force Base says it would offer the city the land for free.

"The city would not have acquistion costs for the land and property and things like that," said Bohannon.

However, the city would have to pay to build and maintain the roadway. KAFB declined to provide a potential cost estimate, saying the last time numbers were generated was back around 2001.

KRQE News 13 contacted Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller's office Friday to ask what the administration thought of the potential idea, but the Keller Administration's communications director did not return a phone call.

Some people are interested in the potential of a bypass

"I can see that it would make it more convenient," said a driver near Eubank and Southern.

"Yes, it would make things a lot nicer," said Aspden.

Gibson Boulevard has a speed limit of 40 miles per hour. Any potential road would have a speed limit set by the city.


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