One of the city’s longest planned neighborhood road projects is finally getting ready for construction.
After years of back and forth between neighbors, planners and government officials, crews have begun “pre-construction” work for a planned roundabout at Rio Grande Boulevard and Candelaria Road.
Contractors working for PNM are now in the process of moving and raising electric utility poles around the intersection in order to clear a path for a single-lane roundabout.
The first on-the-ground work comes after roughly 12 and a half years of talk and planning about making changes to the intersection over safety concerns.
“I think it will make it safer,” said Debbie O’Malley, a Bernalillo County Commissioner and North Valley resident.
O’Malley was one of the first elected officials involved in the project. Back in August 2006, a then-City Councilor, O’Malley met with neighbors about possible traffic calming at the intersection.
By April 2009, a roundabout was suggested for the intersection by the city’s Department of Municipal Development.
“I thought and so did the community, that it was worth it,” said O’Malley. “If you want to do something different, you want to make changes, you’re going to get push back.”
There was some visible push back. Neighbors protested at the intersection in 2012 to oppose the project. However, that opposition didn’t win out. Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton now represents the area and has since gotten all the approvals for the $1.7 million federal and state-funded project.
Electrical contractors began moving power lines at and around the intersection on Monday, February 4. That work is expected to continue for the next three to four weeks.
Once the electrical work is complete, the Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority is expected to begin digging up the road to start replacing water lines. That work is expected to take around three months.
After that, crews are expected to begin the groundwork of building the roundabout. Construction on the project is expected to take six to seven months. All of it means that the intersection is likely to see construction work through the end of the year.
“There will be impacts, there will be lane closures, they may have to take detours, they may need to allow extra time to get in or out of the intersection,” said Patti Watson, a spokeswoman for the roundabout construction project.
So will drivers be ready for another roundabout in Albuquerque? Some neighbors are optimistic.
“I think it will be a little confusing at first, but once they get used to it, I think they’ll like it,” said Charles Spann, a neighbor who says he’s excited for the project’s eventual completion.
The city has contracted with a communications firm that’s expected to provide construction updates on the project. For more information, click here to visit the project website.