ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - You can scratch the I-25/Paseo interchange off the agenda, but a new list from the state shows New Mexico has some seriously expensive road projects that need to get done.
It's a big list, and many of those projects focus on the heart of the state in Albuquerque, including quite a few parts of Interstate 25. Funding, however, will likely be the biggest challenge.
An overhaul of the I-25 interchange with Paseo del Norte NE is about to being after the city, county and state cobbled together $93 million for the first phase of a complete overhaul the state has estimated to cost around $350 million. Surveying is now underway, and a groundbreaking ceremony for the project is schedled for Sept. 5.
Some of the focus of the new list is on the high traffic area on I-25 between the Gibson and Lead-Coal exits.
“I just see havoc,” Joseph Archibeque said. “I see people flying. I see people trying to get in the lanes.”
That kind of havoc has caught the city's eye.
“We've done a few minor fixes that we could afford, but the major work is being studied right now because we know it’s an issue,” said Phil Gallegos, a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
That stretch of road came in at No. 3 on the list of road projects that need the most attention in New Mexico.
“This is a $200 million project that would eliminate the S curve in that section of I-25,” said Carolyn Kelly with TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C.
The S curve with its tight turns between Lead-Coal and Avenida Cesar Chavez is notorious for multiple-vehicle crashes and flipped over trucks as evidenced by the scars on the median and shoulder barrier walls.
NMDOT working with TRIP came up with 50 "much needed" improvements to roadways around the state.
In addition to I-25, the idea of a bus rapid transit system also made the list. Simply put, it would create a bus route through Albuquerque using light-rail-style stations.
“It would create more timely and more dependable transit options and assist in the redevelopment of vacant and underused land in that corridor,” Kelly said.
Other projects include building a bridge across the Rio Grande in Los Lunas to link I-25 and State Road 47.
There are also talks of redesigning the area around the University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College and the sports stadiums to make those areas more traffic friendly.
But as good as these projects look on paper, they certainly aren't cheap, and the money just isn't there yet. In the meantime, the state will do the best with what it has.
“That’s our job right now is to keep everything at a point where when we do get funding for these projects as they come up in the future, that they haven't deteriorated to where it would cost more to actually rebuild them,” Gallegos said.
The Department of Transportation says getting these projects off the ground will help create jobs and economic growth in the state. But again, with the lack of funding, a lot of these are a long way down the road.
The study says New Mexico's population has grown nearly 40 percent over the past 12 years, which translates to a lot more cars on highways that need updating.
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