ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The clock is ticking for construction crews who are just now breaking ground on a major I-25 project outside of Balloon Fiesta Park. The project is designed to alleviate backups.
“With Balloon Fiesta time, it is crazy getting into work, I know we have a lot of people that come to pick up their items during the week, and they can’t really get through, so we’re excited to see how the traffic will lessen and hopefully move more effectively,” Scott Hughes, the part owner of Your Easy Auction House New Mexico, said.
He is thrilled to hear new construction will hopefully help traffic backups during Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta, which happens to be just down the street from his shop.
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The 2.5 million dollar project started Monday morning. It will move the southbound I-25 on-ramp at Roy Avenue and Tramway Road by 1,100 feet. The city says that moving it a little further south will give parkgoers access to more side streets, making it faster and safer for them when leaving the event.
“Our goal is obviously to have it done before this year’s balloon fiesta so people will be able to have access to the ramp, getting out of balloon fiesta park during this year’s event,” Scott Cilke, a Public Information Officer for the Department of Municipal Development, said.
The 50th annual Balloon Fiesta starts in just over two months, creating a tight timeline for this project. “Today has always been the start date, and we haven’t faced any delays thus far. We’re certainly on track to finish the project on time and are planning to finish the project on time,” Cilke said.
However, if the construction is not done in time, there is a backup plan. “With that in mind, should anything massive come up where the project isn’t completed on time, there are contingency plans in place, but we have absolutely every intention of having the project done by this year’s event,” Cilke said.
The city says one of the backup plans is to utilize the Frontage Road and on-ramp at Alameda, which is the same exit strategy used in years past. For Hughes, he is optimistic about the project, even if it means putting up with several months of construction.
“There is definitely going to be some concerns. I know we do have some bidders that come in from Santa Fe; I’m sure that will affect them quite a bit,” Hughes said.
A spokesperson for Balloon Fiesta says they are also optimistic that the project will be done ahead of fiesta and says they are excited about it. This is a project they have pushed for the last five years.