By Elaine Tassy
Journal Staff Writer
A design team has been chosen for a $93 million project that will alleviate traffic snafus around the intersection of Interstate 25 and Paseo del Norte, a rebuild that is expected to take two years.
The design-build team, Kiewit New Mexico/Bohannan Huston Inc./Terracon, one of three on the short list, beat out two other teams that bid on the project in February because it had the shortest construction time and vowed to complete the work within budget, according to Mayor Richard Berry.
“It’s my sincere pleasure to announce a milestone,” Berry said at a Sunday afternoon news conference.
Berry estimated that the intersection sucked up 350,000 hours of commuting motorists’ time annually and that it has been the site of about 500 car accidents every year, prompting him to call it “the worst traffic nightmare in the city.”
The project will cost $75 million to construct, according to Patti Watson, a communication coordinator for the team, who said the additional $18 million are for preliminary design, acquisition of rights of way, and additional professional fees.
“Our project team is now complete,” said Michael Riordan, director of municipal development with the Mayor’s Office.
The I-25 Interchange Project will add free-flow ramps to the interchange as well as a grade separation at Paseo and Jefferson, the Mayor’s Office said. Specifically, one free-flow ramp will ease traffic bottlenecks from southbound I-25 to eastbound Paseo traffic; a fly-over ramp will improve circulation from northbound I-25 to westbound Paseo; and an overpass at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Paseo del Norte will improve east-west traffic flow.
The project has not faced much opposition, according to mayoral spokeswoman Dayna Gardner.
“This is something everybody knew needed to be done,” she said. “Putting together money, that was the big challenge,” she said.
The city of Albuquerque pays more than half the tab, $50 million, and the state will kick in $29.75 million.
Bernalillo County is on board with an additional $5 million. That’s because, since county motorists are also beneficiaries, the work will “ease traffic congestion for us all,” according to Maggie Hart Stebbins, who chairs the Bernalillo County Commission and who spoke briefly at the news conference.
The remaining $8.25 million is coming from federal funding sources, Watson said.
Other key benefits of the project include improved air quality, congestion relief on parallel river crossings, as well as 3,000 new jobs within the next 20 years and an estimated $2.5 million annual savings in fuel for the region over the next 20 years, according to a news release from the Mayor’s Office. Berry said the expected work demands will be for schedulers, estimators, engineers and administrators who will be on board to make sure the project stays on budget.
Although the bulk of the construction will begin after the Balloon Fiesta in October, some of the work will begin after a ribbon-cutting in September, Berry said. Completion is expected in fall 2015.
The two other short-listed teams bidding on the design project were North Gateway Joint Venture, from Arizona, and Sundt/AUI/URS Corp., co-located in New Mexico and Arizona.