City Council approves plans to develop 118th Street to I-40, Ladera

Traffic and Roads

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A major overhaul is coming to a busy street on Albuquerque’s westside but just barely. It was a divided city council as some say the project shouldn’t be a priority for the city’s time and money. Plans are now in motion to develop 118th Street.

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However, some councilors believe the resolution needed more time to be discussed before coming to a vote. For years, the city has debated developing 118th Street along the southwest Mesa.

“This is something that’s really a feeder road for the City of Albuquerque and it’s an important stretch,” said Councilor Klarissa Peña with District 3. “It needs to be completed into the future of growth in the City of Albuquerque.”

People living in the area south of I-40 say there are only two ways in and out of the neighborhood, resulting in major traffic delays. During Monday’s city council meeting, councilors debated a major overhaul of the road, which runs through parts of unincorporated Bernalillo County, and would include a new intersection built at I-40.

“The city ends somewhere,” said Councilor Brook Bassan with District 4. “But we still have a responsibility to those residents inside of the city that travel to and from and around.”

Councilor Lan Sena amended the proposal, asking that the developed road also extend north of I-40 to Ladera, near Atrisco Vista. However, for one councilor, the new plans and urgency didn’t sit well.

“To say this is certainly a city-wide priority is questionable. We haven’t had discussions about the land use so I propose that, I propose that we slow-roll this for a while,” said Councilor Isaac Benton with District 2. “If it’s just about building a two-lane road to help people get to shopping as we’ve discussed previously, I’m all for that, but a citywide priority, and to present it to the Regional Transportation Board, I think is questionable.”

Benton wanted the entire vote to be deferred to another date to give more time to see how the extension north of I-40 would impact plans and cost but the motion to defer failed on a 4-5 vote. Reiterating the question of the small impacted area being a citywide priority on the agenda, Benton made his own changes.

“I would support a small roadway of the type that Councilor Peña has discussed with me that we just need to get people from one end to the other along here where they can get to some services. I’m all in favor of that, but the idea that this would become a citywide priority, I cannot support,” said Benton. “I propose an amendment if there’s a second that this be called the priority of districts one and three, city council districts one and three, wherever it’s mentioned as a citywide priority.”

That amendment also failed 4-5, sending the final resolution on to a vote. Councilor Peña, who spearheaded the resolution, says as the city continues to develop outward, it’s better to do this now, rather than waiting for the problem to get worse.

“I look forward to the growth of our city and I look forward to developing an area that’s been underserved and hasn’t really developed in the way that it should,” said Peña. “The westside of Albuquerque deserves to have the development done correctly on our side of town, as well.”

The motion just barely passed with a 5-4 vote. An exact cost hasn’t been decided yet but Peña says funding for the project could come from multiple sources including city tax revenue and federal grants. A timeline for the project has not yet been set but Peña says it would move along as funding becomes available.

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