ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Drive in Albuquerque with the radio on and you've likely heard ads supporting or opposing just about everything up for vote in November.
That includes the proposed $93 million upgrade of the Paseo del Norte/Interstate 25 interchange in Albuquerque
A 60-second spot being played on 770 AM, 94.1 FM, 103.3 FM and 107.9 FM claims voting yes means reducing traffic and a whole lot more including this claim:
"You will also reduce the amount of traffic accidents in the area, add $2.8 billion dollars into the local economy..."
The $2.8 billion figure is a big claim for one construction project. That's a little less than half of the state of New Mexico's general fund budget for this year.
It turns out that number wasn't just pulled out of thin air. It came from a November 2011 study published by the Mid-Region Council of Governments.
"That $2.8 billion number is a large number and probably hard for some people to swallow, certainly," said MRCOG spokesperson Augusta Meyers.
But that $2.8 billion wouldn't be projected to come to the region all at once. That's actually supposed to be the total economic impact over the course of 20 years, averaging out to around $140 million each year.
That's still a big number, in fact $50 million more than the Balloon Fiesta's estimated impact in 2011.
Meyers says the estimate includes the positive impacts of adding the construction work needed to build the interchange but is mostly from what a big reduction in traffic congestion means for business and for money in consumers' pockets from gas savings.
"If people can get to work faster, if they can get to their goods faster, if employers can get their goods to market faster and in a more efficient manner, that means the economy is going to improve because of the overall time savings and efficiency," Meyers said.
What the estimate does not include are the unavoidable negative impacts and traffic delays that would slow business down while the interchange is under construction.
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