Kirtland Air Force Base Commander Richard Gibbs told Albuquerque’s business leaders he is moving forward with a long-awaited project — a Gibson Boulevard bypass — during Wednesday morning’s Economic Forum of Albuquerque meeting.
Such a bypass would improve security at the base and encourage increased commerce and a reduction in crime in southeast Albuquerque, Gibbs said.
“The last time we seriously explored this was right before September 11,” Gibbs said. “I think a lot of the businesses that were a part of those discussions regularly ask, ‘Why did it go away? Can we bring it back?'”
Several audience members nodded in agreement.
Gibbs said the new road would connect future businesses located on Kirtland’s Enhanced Use Lease area near Gibson and San Mateo on the north side of the base to Sandia’s Technology Park on southeast Eubank Boulevard.
The bypass would be located along the northern edge of the base and the fenceline would be moved back, so drivers would not need to enter the base.
“If you tie those together, this could possibly get after one of the other challenges in the local community, which is crime,” he said.
Gibbs said they are in the process of permitting an easement for the city to build the bypass on.
He said he also hopes the bypass will curb the number of trespassers entering the base through the Gibson Gate, which is located at a dead end and is entered both purposely and unintentionally.
“Right now, if you are drunk, drugged or you’ve got a warrant and you really don’t know where you’re going, you may drive into Gibson and right onto the base,” Gibbs said, adding the base has “hundreds” of cases of drivers mistakenly approaching the gate each year.
Gibbs said the bypass is still likely years out and is dependent on city dollars, which could impact the project’s timeline.