RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – As the city of Rio Rancho continues to grow, the Department of Transportation says it’s time to grow with it by planning a major expansion of Highway 528. However, local business owners say this planned project is coming at the worst time.
It’s been a rough year for Yvonne Valverde, co-owner of Czer Tattoos and Art in Rio Rancho. The non-essential business has faced months of closures this year because of the pandemic. Now, she believes things will just get worse for her business.
“It’s a $25 million project and what it’ll include is the widening from four, currently we have four with two in each direction. We’ll widen that from four to six lanes so we’ll have an additional lane in each direction,” says Kim Gallegos, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation.
That project will be on Highway 528 starting near Southern, going just north of Northern. The DOT plans on starting construction in the summer of 2021. “That’ll include a pavement overlay, a bike path, pavement markings, drainage improvements, signage, and shoulder work,” says Gallegos.
It’s the DOT’s effort to try to keep up with Rio Rancho’s growth, but business owners along Highway 528 say it’s just another hit after a difficult year. “Wait another year if you have to. I mean I understand that we need to grow, but give our businesses a chance to rebound from this pandemic,” says Valverde.
While the state realizes business owners and drivers may be frustrated by the upcoming project, they say they will provide signage for businesses to let drivers know they are still open. For now, business owners like Valverde say they’re just doing their best to stay afloat right now. “If we make it through this pandemic, how are we going to make it through a huge construction project too?” says Valverde.
The DOT says this project will have some overlap with the ongoing Highway 550 project that is expected to finish in November 2021. They encourage all drivers to be patient and plan accordingly during construction.
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