Project near The Pit restricts lanes ahead of state basketball tournament

Big orange barrels and lane closures are up by Avenida Cesar Chavez and University for a big Albuquerque Water Utility Authority project, but drivers and neighbors are worried it will cause even more traffic problems as people flood in for the state high school basketball tournament this week at The Pit.

The Water Authority said it needs to start working on a big sewer line project and, unfortunately, it can’t wait. Officials add that some lanes will stay closed even when crews aren’t working for people’s safety.

Crews are fixing a mile-long sewer line that the Water Authority said is missing part of the top of the pipe.

“Sometimes, this neighborhood does smell like sewage when it gets nice and hot, so I’m all for fixing an old sewer pipe in my neighborhood,” neighbor Scott Nellos said.

Some people are worried the traffic for the annual tournament will be even worse because of lane restriction put in place for the project.

Westbound Avenida Cesar Chavez and northbound University Boulevard are down to one lane through the intersection.

“I think they should have done it when there’s not so many games. They should have scheduled it in a better way,” neighbor Maria Vera said.

The Water Authority said there’s no immediate danger of the pipe collapsing, but that the work needs to start now, adding that a broken pipe would have a far greater impact than the heavy traffic. 

The construction work and the lane closures at the intersection are expected to last a month.

The entire sewer line project will take about 180 days, the department said.

Crews are using so-called trenching technology to reline the 56-year-old sewer pipeline. They are working in the manholes instead of digging into the road to help minimize the impact on traffic.

The high school basketball tournament starts at the Pit on Tuesday and runs through the championship on Saturday.

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