RIO RANCHO (KRQE) - Commuters from Rio Rancho use the clogged interchange at I-25 and Paseo del Norte everyday, but the City of Vision won't be pitching in to pay for the $93 million project any time soon.
"It's hard for us to justify looking at that," said Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack.
Swisstack said Rio Rancho will be focusing on projects closer to home, including fixing Highway 550 through Bernalillo and expanding Paseo del Volcan at Unser.
"We're trying to develop a network of roads," said Swisstack. "Part of what we're looking at as a city is what are some infrastructure needs that I think we're all trying to build upon."
Revamping the I-25/Paseo del Norte interchange will include a flyover from northbound I-25 to westboudn Paseo and a ramp from eastbound Paseo to southbound I-25. City officials hope to break ground next year.
"Engineers are telling us that's going to take away 60 to 70 percent of the problem," said Mayor R.J. Berry. "It's been a long time coming. We've got 56 million cars going through this intersection. We've got 350,000 man hours of lost time stuck in traffic. That's time away from family, from work, cars putting exhaust into the air just sitting there or being delayed."
Getting the funding to pay for the project was a challenge. The city of Albuquerque committed $50 million, the state promised $30 million and Bernalillo County offered another $5 million. Mayor Berry said he's hoping a federal grant will come up with the remaining $8 million.
"If for some reason this does not come through, rest assured, I'll be out there turning over rocks any where I can," said Berry.
Even though Rio Rancho won't be a monetary donor for I-25/Paseo, both mayors agree there are other priorities that are needed to improve some of the metro area's worst spots for gridlock.
"(Highway 550 and Paseo del Volcan), in particular, do impact our citizens in Albuquerque as well," said Mayor Berry. "And as much as we can say to Rio Rancho that you should pitch in for this one, we are happy they are doing their other infrastructure."
Mayor Swisstack said Rio Rancho's focus projects will contribute to the grid of traffic that will give commuters other options.
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