Big changes are coming to Gibson right where it ends.
Two big projects are underway to make it safer for Kirtland Air Force base and the nearby neighborhoods.
“Many of our residents are kind of in a little valley so there’s a lot of flooding that’s always gone on at Louisiana and Gibson,” Siesta Hills Neighborhood Association Co-President Tamaya Toulouse said.
Toulouse said the runoff from Kirtland Air Force Base during big storms floods these streets on the edge of the base year after year.
“We’re at the top end of the watershed and we feed into what’s flooding about 900 properties in the city of Albuquerque,” Kirtland Air Force Base Deputy Base Civil Engineer Bo Bohannon said.
The solution: a facility that will detain water to funnel into the city’s existing storm drain system.
It’s now under construction at the southeast corner of the intersection and is set to be finished in about seven months.
“That will reduce the water flow off base from about 500 cubic feet per second during a storm event to about 15 feet per second,” Bohannon said.
While this project is underway, KAFB decided now would be the time to also make a major change to Gibson, moving the entrance to the base onto Louisiana, south of Gibson.
“We’re going to rearrange the intersection to where you can no longer go east on Gibson. You’ll either be forced to turn left or right onto Louisiana,” Bohannon added.
Base officials state in the environmental assessment that the move will help keep drivers from mistakenly coming onto base, a daily occurrence.
“It’s confusing to many people. And, we get many inadvertent drivers that arrive at our security checkpoint at Gibson,” Bohannon explained. “We found that someone who may be drunk or under the influence of something unintentionally arrives at our guard shacks, puts our security forces and gate guards in danger. We have to do a sobriety check and detain them and work with the Albuquerque Police Department.”
The base donated 47 acres to the Albuquerque Metro Arroyo Flood Control Authority to build the drainage facility.
The projects will cost approximately $2.2 million combined. The Air Force is paying for the majority of it.