ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - After the dust settles on the current overhaul of the Paseo del Norte-Interstate 25 interchange, the city could be moving the orange barrels a little farther north for its next major road project.
Albuquerque Municipal Development Director Michael Riordan tells KRQE News 13 the city is planning a $12 million upgrade of Alameda Boulevard in the section under city jurisdiction from Interstate 25 to Second Street NW.
The key to the project would be widening Alameda from four lanes to six. At Monday's meeting, Albuquerque City Council approved a design firm that will plan out the overhaul over the next couple of years. Riordan says construction is expected to start in 2016 and would likely be completed in several phases over several years.
Riordan says the intent of widening Alameda would be to increase capacity and cut down on congestion. Right now, rush hour traffic is a bit of a nightmare on Alameda due to the major work being done on Paseo del Norte.
"In the 22 years I've lived in the neighborhood, I've never seen it [this] bad," said Larry Caudill, head of the Wildflower Area Neighborhood Association.
Even before that construction began, traffic studies had pegged that road as perhaps the most clogged in the entire metro area.
"Alameda Boulevard is the No. 1 congested corridor out of the top 30 congested corridors in the Albuquerque area," said Augusta Meyers with the Mid-Region Council of Governments. "This is a big priority."
The city hopes to work with the county to widen the road even farther west from Second Stree,t but that would fall under county jurisdiction. With a new river crossing to help carry increased Westside traffic not likely anytime soon, expanding the Alameda's lanes across the Rio Grande could help ease that bottleneck. too.
But Catherine Lopez, a spokesperson for Bernalillo County's Public Works Department, tells KRQE News 13 the county has no plans right now to widen its section of the road. Instead the county is working on adding more advanced traffic signals all the way out to Rio Rancho to help improve flow through the area.
Neighbors in line to be affected by the city's planned overhaul of Alameda worry more capacity on the road will simply invite more traffic and turn the road that serves them into a highway similar to Paseo del Norte.
"They can say we need to widen this for more traffic, and sure enough when they widen it we get more traffic," Caudill said. "I'm afraid that as people get the habit of using Alameda while Paseo's under construction, that habit will persist after Paseo opens, and we'll be looking at significant impacts in traffic."
Caudill and Steve Wentworth with the nearby Alameda North Valley Association both say they're concerned with the lack of notice provided by the city about the planned project.
Riordan says most of the city's plans for additional lanes will likely fit inside the roadway already in place, although some private property may need to be purchased to accommodate moved sidewalks or bike lanes. As part of the plans, better landscaping would be added, a bonus that could be especially noticeable during Balloon Fiesta.
The Alameda project's costs would be split between federal dollars and city funds including bond funding.
While the roads were looking clearer Friday morning in the Albuquerque area, appearances can be deceiving
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