ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Balloon Fiesta will be welcoming thousands of visitors this October for its 50th anniversary, which could bring record-breaking crowds and a lot more traffic.
“One of the big issues facing Balloon Fiesta every year is traffic into and out of the park,” said Balloon Fiesta Executive Director, Paul Smith.
Traffic along Balloon Fiesta Parkway and Frontage road sees major congestion during Balloon Fiesta, but the implementation of a slip ramp could bring some relief to drivers. “Hopefully it’ll impact us greatly and be a great addition for all of our guests,” Smith said.
Once installed, the slip ramp will help get people leaving Balloon Fiesta Park onto I-25 quicker, while also helping those who work in the nearby businesses navigate fiesta traffic. “It really also serves the purpose of moving the traffic out of those buildings, the people that work there, and instead of having them be down at Alameda to get onto the interstate they’ll have easy access to I-25,” said Department of Municipal Development Director, Patrick Montoya.
The project to help alleviate congestion has been in the works for several years and once started it should take roughly 90 days to complete. “We are currently bidding the project, we open bids a week from this coming Tuesday. So, we are at the stages of construction. So, we will open bids, review those, select the contractor that is going to do the work for us,” Montoya said.
Montoya says there may be some delays, but it shouldn’t cause the project to interfere with Balloon Fiesta. “The delays we are going to have of course are in some of the equipment that has to be installed, the signage, those sort of things. We anticipate that the overhead signs and maybe a couple of warning signs in advance may not be in place before the ramp is open.”
Montoya says the project will cost more than $2 million, with construction expected to begin in early to mid-June. The city is also looking at other options to make transportation to and from Balloon Fiesta Park easier, including a Rail Runner spur and a bus depot.